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NEW!!! "Only Human" By Luckymama

Only Human

by Marie Crim


Bob Hawkings looked across the conference table at each of the faces of the robotists seated there. The table was a large oval, made of dark stained oak. It was cluttered with the notes and coffee cups of the dozen scientists who surrounded it at the moment. It was Bobs turn to present his project to these scientists who made up the board of directors of United Robots, Inc. Bob was a member of the board and one of the founding robotists of the company. Knowing these facts didnt make him any less nervous about his report that morning. He knew what he would propose to them would be a bombshell, so he spent a few moments studying the faces of his colleagues in the dimmed light to see if he could get an idea of how they would take the news. Knowing he could not put off the inevitable, he took a deep breath, clicked on the first slide of his power point presentation and began.

"As you all know, NASA has been toying with the idea of a manned mission to Mars for some time. And as you also know, the public isnt too keen about exposing humans to the dangers of such a mission. The scientists at NASA are frustrated at this point. After the two shuttle disasters, they are laboring to convince the public that a manned Mars mission could be safe and losing that PR battle. Coupled with the failures of some of the probe missions they launched in recent years, they are suffering under a public relations nightmare at the moment. I think they would jump at a solution to their problems. The Pathfinder mission, one of the few real successes in recent Mars missions, has given them a taste of the Mars apple and they are craving more."

As Bob spoke he deftly clicked through slide after slide outlining the missions he spoke about, outlining the successes and failures of each. After about 10 minutes, Fran Driscole, a middle aged, pinch-faced woman, whom few in the company really got along with, spoke up. Bob cringed, knowing she would probably be the one to lead any opposition to his plan. He was in the majority of the scientists at URI who didnt care for Dr. Driscole, but he did realize she had a gift for positronic brain patterns, the basis of the robotic brain. She was invaluable to the company, so he tolerated her, but only barely.

"All of this is interesting to space enthusiasts, I am sure, but what does all of this have to do with our company? We are not space contractors, we build industrial robots," Fran said in her typical condescending tone, like she was explaining a simple math problem to a schoolboy.

Bob cringed and tried to maintain his composure, if for no other reason, than to strengthen his argument for his project. "Make nice with the bitch and you will score points with the others," he thought to himself. Aloud he answered, "Yes, Dr. Driscole, but it is my plan to expand the small contribution this company has made to the robotics used in some of these missions. My idea, if implemented, would solve NASAs biggest problem, make our company billions, and, dare I add, probably put our competition out of business."

A stir arose from the members seated at the table. URIs biggest competitor in the robot business was an upstart company known as Elite Robots. Industrial espionage and personnel wars were the two main tools of ER and URI had been fighting them in the courts over patent battles in the two years ER had been in existence. Any hint of a project that would castrate their biggest competitor and pain in the ass would be something everyone at the table would surely listen to with eager anticipation. That is why, when Fran spoke her first hint of objecting to Bobs plan, he had this bit of dynamite to throw at them. He knew his audience. It was in his best interest to know them.

Bob waited for the murmurs to die down before he proceeded. "In order to understand the full impact of my proposed solution to both NASAs and URIs problems, let me summarize the problem NASA has had with the recent Mars missions." He clicked to the next slide. "One. NASA has had problems with unmanned probes. The probably of failure is about 50% and these probes arent cheap. When the systems on these probes fail, NASA has a hard time communicating with them in order to correct the problems. Lets face it, Mars is a lot further away than the moon, where they have had greater success with unmanned probes. When the systems fail and NASA cannot correct the problem from ground control, the mission and the dollars spent on it are lost. The public isnt too happy losing valuable tax dollars, especially when there is a growing sector that thinks we waste money in space that should go to feeding the poor." Looking at his audience starting to shift nervously in their seats over this highly political statement, one in which their company fought against on a daily basis with their own public relations department, Bob knew hed better move on, or his presentation might get lost in a useless, heated debate about something they were powerless to control anyway.

"But that is not the concern of this board or our company, so let me move on to problem number two." Bob clicked to the next slide. " Two. NASA knows humans are better equipped to handle the complexities of missions to the planets, they would be on hand to make the corrections needed when equipment acts up. Plus, the greatest interest NASA has had over the years in the public forum has been with its manned missions. Most of us in this room remember the excitement of the 60s and 70s when NASA was sending men into space and finally to the moon. I remember being glued to the tube as a kid in the summer of 69 watching as Neil Armstrong set the first human foot on the surface of the moon. I even went out that night in the back yard with my telescope, hoping to catch a glimpse of the astronauts up there. I know, I was naive, they were not on a part of the moon visible from earth, but I was a kid."

Smiles emanated from many of the members as they recalled that time in their lives. Bob took this as a positive sign and continued. "But, as I said before, the public is not in a mood to support manned missions at this time because they are not so sure the safety factor is acceptable. So the problem, as I see it, would be to have NASA send something that would be as good as a human, but not human so as not to risk human life as they started this mission." Bob paused momentarily to let the impact of that statement set in. Mike Thompson was the first to take the bait.

"Bob, what you are describing is a robot, but you know NASA isnt interested in our robots. They say robots arent any better than the unmanned probes they are sending up, just more expensive."

"Yes, and in a way they are right. What NASA needs is a robot who would have all of the same responses as a human and would be able to reason as a human does. This way they could send up a ship of these robots to scout out the planet and even start setting up a shelter for the humans who would follow. These robots would find out the dangers before the humans would get there. There would still be risks to the humans who would follow these robots, but they would be considerably less."

Jim Sutton, the head of the company, cleared his throat. "What you are proposing, Bob, is a human form robot. We have discussed the possibility of building them in the far future, but the technology isnt here yet."

Bob smiled. He knew the next thing he was about to tell them would bring more than murmurs to the room. He savored this moment by revealing his next bit of info slowly. "Well, sir, most people believe that is true. First, let me ask you, what makes a human brain so unique and the best suited to the task of exploration?" Bob indicated to the people in the room that the question was open for anyones answers.

Lenny Green was the first to propose an answer. "Well I would think it is because our brains are always learning and adapting to situations."

"Exactly," said Bob emphatically. "We have started to develop positronic brains that can be programmed with lots of useful information, more than most humans can hold in fact, but that superior information storage doesnt make positronic brains superior to a human brain in a situation where intuition is needed to assess a problem. What would be needed is a positronic brain that could be programmed to "learn". Intuition is a learned behavior in humans, so if a robot could be taught to understand human needs and emotions, it would be more suited to the kind of exploration I have proposed for it."

Fran frowned. "Are you telling me that we need to invent an emotional robot in order for it to be able to handle this job?" She said it with much spite in her voice. Bob tried hard not to laugh. He knew Fran had been characterized as a human who acted more like the emotionless robots she helped to create. He tried to explain without offending her.

"No, Dr. Driscole. Our robots wouldnt experience emotion, but they would be able to sense emotion in humans and from that, ascertain the needs of the humans they are working with. All of this would lead to the intuition needed in their brains to make the decisions necessary to aid in human exploration of Mars and maybe beyond. And a intuitive brain isnt the only requirement. This robot would need to be as close to a human in form so as to experience the environment as a human would, so that the solutions it would come up with would be ones best for human habitation of Mars and other worlds. In other words, as Dr. Sutton put it, a completely human form robot."

Jim coughed again. "Well, young man, that is all well and good, but as I stated before, the technology isnt here yet for such a robot. I am not sure if it would ever be developed, given our own PR problems with the general public. We cant even sell them on the idea of a robot who looks like a robot to help them with simple chores. Oh, most people have accepted them in the workforce, but that was after considerable fuss with the Unions and only after we assigned them the most dangerous or menial of tasks. I dont think humans are ready for a robot that looks and acts like them. People would be too suspicious of them, especially in the area of human safety."

Bob paused, more to give the president of the company time to think that Bob was pondering his concerns. He knew the answer to them all, but wondered which to tackle first.

"Sir, the newer positronic brains have been programmed with the late Dr. Asimovs three Laws of Robotics. For the record, I will state them here. 1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, 2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law, and 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. With such safeguards in robot programming, the safety issue isnt a factor. As for humans accepting human form robots, I suspect that they might be more willing to accept them than their metallic counterparts. I have a proposal for such an experiment. But you are correct in stating that all of this is moot if the technology isnt there to create such human form robots. But this comes to the heart of my presentation. He turned up the dimmed lights he had lowered for his power point presentation and switched the projector off.

"If you would give me a minute to get the next part of my presentation. It is waiting out in the hall." Bob left the room as the buzz of conversation rose with the questions that he knew were on the minds of his colleagues. He couldnt suppress a chuckle as he closed the door behind him. Out in the hall, he approached a man who stood silently awaiting orders. "Its time, my friend, to introduce you to the world."

"Yes, Dr. Hawkings. I am ready."

Bob took the human form robot by the arm and led him into the board room. A hush came over the board members as Bob led his creation into the room. He amusingly thought to himself how Dr. Frankenstein must have felt when he revealed his creation to the world. He briefly thought that, he too, was mistakenly playing God, but then he remembered that he never claimed that his creation was human, only like a human. He led his robot to the front of the room beside the podium and said, "My esteemed colleagues, I wish to present to you, human form robot- HFR 1." Many voices tried to talk at once, but Jims was the loudest and carried the most authority, given his position as president of the company. "BOB! What in Gods name have you done?" Most of the board members joined Jims query with nodded heads.

"Sir, and esteemed colleagues," Bob felt he had to continue to appease them with this title. He knew he had broken the first law of the company by developing his robot without consulting the team. But with all the industrial thievery that had been going on of late, he knew he had to keep this one under wraps till he had it perfected. It took two years of his life, but it would be worth it if the company would back his project. He continued, "I know that I should have been more forthcoming in consulting you on this project sooner than I have. I am sure you all have judged by what you see here that I have been working on HFR 1 for a long time. Two years, in fact." More murmurs and tones of discontent rose from the table. Bob forged on. "But let me assure you, it isnt because I didnt want or need your help, in truth, I have actually used some of the ideas you have shared with me on HFR 1. He is truly a company team effort even though I was the only one who actually worked on him in the flesh. Dr. Green, your work with artificial skin was instrumental in making HFR 1 look like a real human. Dr. Thompson, your insights on biology and anatomy helped design HFR 1s anatomy. He is anatomically correct down to every detail. In a crowd, he would be mistaken for a real human. The rest of you had your contributions as well. And Dr. Driscole," Bob turned and looked Fran directly in the eyes. He had saved the best and hardest for last. "All of this would have been a waste of money and time if it wasnt for your positronic brain pathways." Bob saw her soften just a little, knowing that pride is a powerful thing. He knew that ego stroking was the only way to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow scientists. "So I can stand here and say that even though I might have put it all together, you each have a share in the end product."

Steel bands couldnt have kept the members of the board in their seats once Bob had let them know they were a part of the plan. All rose as one body and surrounded Bob Hawkings and his creation. Each probed the robot and asked Bob a thousand questions all at once. After letting them have their fun, Bob raised his hand and asked if they would please resume their seats. The scientists reluctantly did so.

"I know you all have a million questions, and I will answer them all in the coming weeks and months. HFR 1 is remarkable in and of itself, but he is only a beginning. As I said, we need more like him, but he is not complete. That is why I need your permission," Bob mostly focused his attention on Jim, as the ultimate authority for the company. The board had a vote, but Jims, as president, carried the weight of the group. He continued, "to have HFR 1 complete his training. As Dr. Green stated before, the best thing about a human brain is its capacity to learn and adapt. HFR 1 has been programmed with the latest and best information available today, but I have added a special feature to his positronic brain. I have given HFR 1 the capacity to learn. The robot must learn what it is like to think like a human in order to apply that to adaptive situations. I, therefore, want to send my robot, OUR robot, to school."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Theresa Powell. She was the newest board member and the youngest on the team. Her work in brain capacities rivaled her colleague, Dr. Driscole, but she was astute enough not to ruffle the feathers of the older woman by letting it be known. Others in the room nodded their puzzled heads.

"I dont propose to send the robot to a formal school, such as we send our children. Goodness knows, HFR 1 knows more than any college professor could teach him. No, what I mean by school is, he will need to be in the care of a human being in order for him to learn human responses to everyday life."

"Well why dont you teach him, Dr. Hawkings?" asked Fran in a sneer.

Bob maintained his composure. Nothing that woman had to say would turn the rest against him at that moment, and he knew it. He had bested her with her own science and he prickled with a little pride of his own knowing that she knew it. "I thought about this a long time. We in the robotics community are so logically minded, that I am not sure we would be good teachers for this kind of assignment. What we need is either an ordinary, unsuspecting human who would not be prejudiced in teaching the robot everything he would need to know to make good intuitive decisions, but I am afraid that would require a long exposure. The only other alternative, which might be faster, would be to have him in the care of a person schooled in the science of human psychology. Such a person would be able to help the robot learn what makes humans tick, and in a shorter time frame.

Being that HFR 1 is technically a product of our company, my only claim to him is that I manufactured him, I would need your permission to place him with a suitable person for his final programming. I am well aware of the chances I would be taking, we would be taking, if I placed him with just anyone. The risks of industrial espionage by our competitor has been foremost on my mind the whole two years I have worked on this project."

Jim looked impatiently at his employee. "Well then, Dr. Hawkings, what do you propose?"

"I would like permission to place HFR 1 in the care of my wife, Maria. As you know, she has a Ph.D. in human psychology. She is a practicing psychologist and a member of the board of the APA. I think she would be ideal for the job. Plus she has the added benefit of being indirectly associated with our company through me. She would be a low security risk."

"But Bob," said Mike, with great informality. Of all the scientists on the board, Bob was the most friendly with Mike. "You and I both know how much your wife HATES robots!" The rest of the board members let out a little chuckle. Marias views on her husbands work were well know at URI.

Bob joined the good natured laugh. "I know, and for some strange reason, that makes her all the more qualified to handle this job. One of the things I hope to accomplish is not only getting a human form robot to think and even act more like a human, but to get humans to accept them. If my wife can learn to accept HFR 1, then anyone will!" He laughed again.

Theresa, sensing the levity of the moment, decided to ask a question that was troubling her. She had been studying the robots face through out the proceedings and something about its look bothered her. "Bob, can I ask a personal question?"

"Sure, my life is an open book, you know that about me."

"Yeah, except when he is making secret robots," chided Lenny. Some in the room laughed.

"Well, except for that." Bob added. Turning back to Theresa he said, "What is your question?"

"Its face, it isnt symmetric.... and why did you chose to give your robot Hispanic features?"

Bob blushed a little. "Well I had hoped you would approve my wife as instructor for my friend here. As Mike put it, Maria isnt too keen on robots, and I thought if I gave him features she would be more willing to live with, she might accept him faster." He saw puzzlement settle over the room. "Let me explain. In order for humans to accept robots as one of their own, so to speak, they really have to look like real humans. I dont know too many humans that have perfectly symmetrical features, do you?" Everyone shook their head. "I also had to make him resemble some race. Since I had my wife in mind, I chose Hispanic, since my wife is part Puerto Rican herself. I thought that she might be more open to this whole idea if the robot looked like someone she knew. As a matter of fact, he is patterned after someone she did know briefly thirty years ago. He was a young actor who took his life. I know that my wife admired this person, and since he was dead, I didnt see the harm in using his features. I even spent hours programming his brain so his speech and mannerisms would resemble this human pattern. I used examples from his life work to have HFR 1 act and sound like the human he was made to resemble. This is my first experiment with human form robots, so I guess I took some liberties."

Victor Ramirez, the only Hispanic scientist on the team, smiled. "I thought your robot looked familiar. You made him to resemble the late Freddie Prinze, didnt you?"

"You remember him?" asked Bob. He was under the impression that his wife was the only one who remembered the dead comic. Her and her little band of friends on the Internet. Maria was technophobic, but when Bob had opened up the world of the Internet to her, and she realized she could use the computer to meet new people who shared common interests with her, she finally warmed up to having one in the house. But this was as far as Bob was able to go with his wife and technology. It bristled him to know he was probably the only robotist on the planet who didnt have personal robots in his home. All because of his wifes phobias. But he hoped that would soon change. He sometimes wondered if he didnt created Freddie more to solve his domestic problems than for a solution to NASAs problems.

Jim cleared his throat and said. "Dr. Hawkings, what you have proposed has much merit. The applications are enormous and the profit to this company would be as well. You have created a fine human form robot. I think your request to have your wife teach and test this model is reasonable. When do you propose to start the next phase of your experiment?"

Bob tried not to appear to be too eager. "As soon as the board takes the required vote. I am prepared to take Freddie home to my wife tonight, if the board gives me the green light."

"Very well, is there any further discussion on the matter?" Jim looked around as Fran raised her hand. "Dr. Driscole?"

"Just one question. Dr. Hawkings, how long have you been testing HFR 1 yourself to ascertain that the robot is perfectly harmless around humans?"

Bob knew this was a reasonable question. "I have had Freddie with me in my lab a total of six months, while I was programming him to act and sound like the real Freddie Prinze. I have also trained him some in responding to human needs, as being with any human, he would learn some of these responses in the natural course of human events. I am afraid, though, that I am not up to the task of being objective with him, and I want him to get the full treatment, so to speak, when it comes to human nature. But in the six months since his positronic brain was activated, he has responded to me in a safe and reasonable manner."

"Do you propose to be around your wife when she is conducting the next part of the experiment and training?" Mike asked.

"Actually, I had thought long and hard about that. I am not sure how long it might take, only that it should be shorter with someone trained in human psychology. I really think it would be better if my wife didnt have me around to interfere with this in anyway. I would check in from time to time, of course. Safety would dictate this. Plus, Freddie is equipped with a recording device, so he will be able to file a complete report with me when the training is complete. Freddie, by the way, is not designed to ever go into space. I will have to make some adjustments to the human form robot, as NASA would specify when we are ready to reveal Freddie to them. In fact, if all goes as I plan, my wife will only have to teach Freddie and he would, in turn, instruct his fellow HFRs with much more efficiency, saving time in the training process. The pupil in human nature would then become the teacher. That would be his function, ultimately."

Mike inquired further, "Do you think your wife will agree to be separated from you for as long as she will need to train HFR 1?"

Bob smiled and blushed. "As you all know, my wife and I have led a unique existence. We were never able to have children, and her work and mine have kept us separated for as much as months on end. We miss each other very much during these times to be sure, but our marriage was built on a love that transcended the fact that she didnt want to know about my work and I never had an interest in hers. We have always had a unspoken pact that allowed us to be passionate about our work without imposing it on each other. I think the hardest hurdle will be to convince her that training Freddie would be actually something she would enjoy as a student of human psychology. In that alone, I ask your support, and if you are a praying person, your prayers. I am sure she would be used to me not being around for a while. I have more work to do here at URI and I am going to need all of your help preparing for the next phase of the project, the construction of more HFRs. I will use this as a legitimate excuse to leave Freddie in her exclusive care."

"Well, it sounds like you have thought all of this out in a very complete manner, Dr. Hawkings." Jim turned to the board members. "I know that Dr. Hawkings vote is a yes, so I am going to ask him to step outside with his robot so we can take the rest of the votes. I hope you dont mind this unusual measure, my boy, but I want everyone in here to feel like they can vote without prejudice."

"That would be acceptable to me, Dr. Sutton. I kind of anticipated that you might want to do that. Thank you for counting my yes vote in the tally." Turning to the rest of the board, he said, "Thank you for your time and patience with me. I know I should have consulted you more, but now that you have seen what I have done, I will need your help even more. This could be a giant leap forward in robotics and for this company." Bob took Freddie by the arm and said, "Come Freddie, my friend."

"Yes, Dr. Hawkings," answered Freddie and the robotist and the robot left the room.

Out in the hall, Freddie turned to Bob and said, "I am sorry I did not get to speak on my own behalf."

"I know, Freddie, but I didnt think it might be a good time to do that, even though I know you had prepared a speech. We might be out here a while and I need to sit down." Bob led Freddie down the hall to his office on the same floor as the board room. He knew they would know where to find him when they were finished with the vote. He sat down, exhausted, in his comfortable high-backed leather chair. It had been a gift from Maria, when he got the office. She had told him every scientist needed a comfortable chair to collapse in when the work of the day got to him. He was the envy of the team, because his was the most comfortable chair to be had in the company, with the exception of Dr. Suttons. He quietly thanked Maria for being so considerate.

Freddie sat down in the only other chair in the office, a beat up relic from when the company building had been part of the government Office of Robotics. The Institute, as it was called by the people who worked there, had been the first of its kind, when Robotics was a young and often misunderstood science. Bob worked for the Institute in its latter days as a government agency. It was Bob and some of the other scientists at the Institute that bought the agency from the government when they wanted out of Robotics and put it in the private sector. Actually, it had been mostly Jim Suttons money, but each of the founding board members had contributed a share. The offices and board room were housed in the old government building, but URI had built modern labs and assembly lines on the remaining property bought when they acquired the Institute. Sometimes, in a moment of forgetfulness, people would refer to URI as the Institute. It didnt bother Bob that they did. It just reminded him that his company was the oldest and most experienced in the business, a fact that URIs competition would like to forget.

Freddie broke the silence that had descended on the office. "Friend Bob, do you think that they will agree to your proposal?"

Bob had taught Freddie to call him by this more personal title when they were alone. Freddie always referred to Bob by his official title when others were around, which wasnt too often until today. Bob welcomed the friendliness of the personal title. "I dont know, Freddie, I am just not sure. I know they are intrigued by you, but I knew I was taking a big risk keeping you a secret for the past two years. Some of the scientists, especially Dr. Driscole, might take that as a personal insult."

"Humans allow their pride to affect their judgment, then?"

Bob smirked. "Unfortunately, they do. Some people say it would be a better world if people didnt allow personal pride to get in the way of their reasoning, but then we wouldnt be humans, I suppose."

"Will Friend Maria be able to explain this further to me?"

"Better than I could, I am sure. She knows humans better than I do. She will, if the board gives her the chance."

"Then I will hope that the board sees past their pride and votes to have me continue my education according to your plan." Freddie smiled. It was one of the hardest things Bob had attempted to program into Freddies positronic brain. Most robots remained expressionless, since they didnt experience the emotions that usually accompanied human facial expression. It had been Dr. Powells work with equating emotional responses to logical robotic equations that helped him make a break through. It was an area of the positronic brain pathways that Dr. Driscole would have never dreamed of experimenting with. Bob smiled. Theresa exuded more human warmth than Fran ever had, which probably had led to Theresa specializing in positronics and human emotions. All Bob had to do was instruct Freddie to study the face of the human he was with to get his cues as to which expression might be appropriate. He also taught Freddie that, even though a positronic brain couldnt feel pleasure, or any human emotion for that matter, when the robots brain was functioning at peak efficiency and his task was easy, this could be equated to the pleasure humans feel. Knowing that pleasure led to the expression of a smile, and studying the tapes of the show that the real Freddie Prinze had acted in, HFR Freddie was able to duplicate the smile that had won the actor the fame he had experienced in his lifetime. Bob had been able to program Freddie to respond to other basic human emotions in that way as well, finding positronic equivalents to human emotions. He didnt do too many though, instead giving Freddies brain the capacity to learn more as he experienced what it was like to live with a human. He thought with humor, what Maria might think of this whole experiment with human emotions and robots learning to respond appropriately to them. She would probably remind him that most humans didnt know how to respond properly. But he knew that Freddie would have to learn about the inconsistencies of human emotions as well as the ones that made sense. And who better, than his wife, to teach him. Bob loved Maria for the past 20 years of their marriage, but he was truthful enough with himself to admit that he really knew very little about what made her tick emotionally. It would be interesting to see if Freddie could figure Maria out better than Bob ever could.

Bob was glad that Freddie didnt require conversation. He was emotionally exhausted from the presentation and relished the quiet of his office. He put his head back and closed his eyes to catch a little rest before he found out the fate of is project. He knew Freddie would be sitting in the other chair, waiting with the patience of a robot, to know his fate as well.

Bob must have fallen asleep in his chair, for when Freddie woke him, it was dark out. "Friend Bob, your telephone is making a ringing noise. I am to presume it is a signal for you to respond to."

Bob pulled himself out of his slumbering state and thanked Freddie. He answered the phone. "Dr. Hawkings office."

"Bob, its Mike. Dr. Sutton asked me to call you to let you know that the board voted to have you continue your project and approved your wife as Freddies teacher."

Bob sighed and gave a thumbs up to Freddie. Freddie, in his robot way, looked at Bob with what Freddie equated as a puzzled look. Bob smiled and said, "Thats wonderful news. Was the vote close?"

"Well I am not suppose to divulge the nature of the vote to you, but lets just say it was an overwhelming majority, but not unanimous."

Bob answered, "I gotcha, and I am sure I can guess who was the descending vote, but it doesnt matter. I am glad I convinced the rest of you all. By the way, I have to apologize to you, my friend. I asked a lot of you by asking you not to reveal that you knew about Freddie. I had one of two choices, keeping you in the dark with the others, or letting you in on it, but swearing you to secrecy. I think I did the best thing choosing the latter. You did a great job covering your knowledge."

"Well I understood your need for secrecy. And I am glad you thought enough of me to confide in me. I was also honored to work on Freddie with you these past two years. Good luck winning Maria over to the project. I think she will be harder than the board to convince."

"True. But if you and I did our job right in making Freddie as much like the real deal as we had hoped, it might make it easier for Freddie to charm Maria into agreeing."

"I sure hope so, for your sake. I know I was asking my questions in the board room to throw the rest of them off the scent that I was in on the secret, but I was genuinely interested with my question about how Maria would take all of this."

Bob sighed, "I know you were. I am sure it will be fine. I will call you later and let you know how it went."

"Thanks, and good luck!"

"Ill need it! Bye." And Bob hung up the phone.

Freddie looked intently at Bob, not waiting for him to reveal the nature of the phone call. "Am I to conclude by the smile on your face, Friend Bob, that the vote was favorable and I will be able to continue my education and you will be able to continue the project?"

"Yes, Freddie and you are learning more and more about reading human expressions and equating reasons for them. I know you will be a success."

"If I am a success, it is due to the excellent programming of my creators. Was that Friend Mike on the phone?"

Bob grabbed his jacket and turned off the light as he led Freddie out of his office and to his car. "Yes, Dr. Sutton wanted Mike to be the one to tell me."

"Did the others see through the falsehood?"

Bob had told Freddie that sometimes it was to humans advantage not to reveal the truth all the time. Lies were against moral laws, but sometimes telling falsehoods had advantages, so as to prevent harm from coming to humans. Freddie was able to see that this could be a First Law application for robots and accepted Bobs explanation as to why they needed to lie to the board about Mikes involvement in the project. Bob had told both Freddie and Mike it was necessary to protect Mikes position on the board. Bob was taking a big risk with his project, but he didnt want Mike to suffer if the project blew up in Bobs face.

"No, Freddie, we were successful there too. Lets hope my wife will be willing to do her part."

"I will try my best to win her over, Friend Bob. I am sure I can get her to see that I should not be feared, but helped."

"Freddie, I am beginning to think if anyone can, you can."



Few lights were on in the Hawkings house when Bob pulled his car up the long driveway. He pushed the button on the automatic garage door opener and drove his Jeep Cherokee into the bay that was reserved for his car. He could see his wifes silver Lexus parked in her bay, so he knew she was home. He surmised that she had eaten out after her last appointment of the day, as was her custom, and was probably in the library catching up on her latest mystery novel, or maybe online with her friends in the computer room. Bob kept such strange hours that, unless he arranged with her before hand that he was coming home at a particular time, they rarely ate meals together. This was another concession to their unique marital arrangements. Maria preferred to eat out, since cooking wasnt a talent she felt she had, and Bob, who liked to cook, would make himself something when he got home.

The house was large, mainly because they had hoped to fill it with children one day, but when Maria discovered a congenital deformity in her uterus that made it impossible to have children, the couple were left with the large house all to themselves. There had been talk of adopting when they discovered they couldnt have children of their own, but after a while both had decided maybe fate had dealt them the right hand, since not being tied down to a family meant they could pursue their own interests in a fuller manner. Bob remembered how Marias family, especially her mother who was a Puerto Rican Catholic, reacted to the news that Maria would be unable to give them grandchildren. They were devastated. This sent Maria into a depression for a while, but eventually, when she decided to use the energy she would have spent on childbearing to go back and get her masters and then her Ph. D in human psychology, she forgot all about losing the potential of being a mother. She once said to Bob that working with people who needed her help in sorting out their own problems allowed her to exercise the mother instinct in her.

Bob knew Maria wasnt the kind of person who was afraid of the dark, and she was also energy conscious, so not seeing many lights was another indication that she was home doing something to unwind from a busy day. If she had been out, the security lighting would have been burning brightly. Bob got out of the car and escorted Freddie to the back deck. He asked the robot to sit on one of the lawn chairs by the pool and wait till he had time to break the news to his wife about her role in the project. Freddie obeyed and sat in the dark. He asked Bob if he could go on standby while he waited. Freddie had a built in function that allowed him to shut down all non-essential functions when he was not in use. Bob told him that this would be a good idea and then entered the house through the French doors into the den.

"Maria?" Bob called out. Because the house was designed with 4 bedrooms, one was outfitted as a computer room and one as a library. The third was a spare bedroom and the forth was attached to the master suite. The house also had a formal dining room, an eat-in kitchen, a den and a formal living room. Bob didnt know exactly where he would find his wife, and was too tired to search around. She called out in return, "Im in the library, Robert."

As Bob made his way back to the library, he smiled. Everyone he knew had always called him Bob, or at work, by his title. Maria was the only one who called him by his full given name. She had once told him that she really didnt think Bob was a very becoming nickname so she insisted on using Robert. She said it was a more dignified name and better suited for him. Many couples would have had more unsophisticated pet names for each other, but, again owing to the uniqueness of their relationship, Bob looked upon Marias insistence on using his given name as a pet name for him. Knowing what he need to ask her to do, it put him in a mood to be very loving to her. God only knew he would need all the charm his normally logical mind could muster.

Bob went up to his wife, who was sitting in her favorite overstuffed chair reading, and reached down and kissed her full on the lips. Normally a peck on the cheek or head was his usual greeting, but tonight called for all the stops to be pulled out in the charm department. The difference wasnt lost on Maria who put her book down and her arms around her husbands neck, returning the passion Bobs kiss initiated. "Mmmm, whats the occasion?"

Bob decided to act cool. This would require a lot of prep work on his part, and he didnt want to rush it. Like the presentation today, he knew he would have to gradually sell this idea to Maria, but unlike the board of directors at URI, his wife would be a harder sell. He almost wished he had reserved some of the energy he had put into the earlier presentation. He needed all the energy and wit he could muster.

"Nothing, just that I miss my pretty wife. I have been working pretty late and I sometimes feel I neglect you too much."

Maria stood up and embraced her husband and kissed him again. "I miss you too, Robert. But you know I understand why you work so late. We both have important work to do. I gave up minding you not being home years ago." She kissed him again and he returned it with more passion. "Mmmm but it is nice to be reminded that you love me in such a wonderful way!"

"Well I am glad you dont object to your loving husband showing you some badly needed affection from time to time! I know my work is important, but I do miss you when I work late. I dont know if I ever told you that."

Maria thought a minute. "Not too often. It is good to hear it tho." She smiled. "Did you get some dinner?"

"No, I didnt have a chance. I was going to go out and fix myself something after I said hi to you."

Maria slid her arm into the crux of Bobs and led him out of the library and down the hall to the kitchen. "Let me fix you something tonight, you look kinda tired."

As they entered the kitchen, Bob sat down at the table, winked at her, and said, "Well I guess I should come home and kiss you like that more often." He managed a smile and added, "I am kinda tired, and not too hungry, so soup would be find for tonight."

"Coming right up," answered Maria. She took a can of soup down from the cupboard and opened it with the electric can opener. After dumping it into a saucepan and putting the pot on the stove to heat, she took down a bowl and spoon and set it on the table in front of Bob. "What do you want to drink?"

"A beer would be fine and dont bother with a glass. Ill drink it from the bottle tonight."

Maria got a bottle of beer from the refrigerator and opened it and set it down in front of Bob. Bob took a tug on the beer and Maria said, "You must of had a busy day at the office today to be so tired tonight."

"It was a big day," answered Bob. "Big presentation in front of the board today. Those always wear me out. But I know the rules, I wont bore you with the details."

Maria smiled and went over to the stove to give the soup a stir. "Thats ok. I guess I have been a little too strict with the dont bring your work home with you rule. If you feel like talking about it, I am all ears. I cant promise I will understand it or even be that interested, but I will listen if you need to talk."

"Thanks, hon. Maybe it will help me to unwind to talk a little about it. I promise you tho, if it gets to boring, tell me and Ill quit."

Maria brought the steaming pot over to the table and poured some of the soup into Bobs bowl. She then put the pot back on the stove and turned off the burner. Reaching back into the cupboard, she brought out a box of crackers and placed them on the table. Going back to the refrigerator, she got herself a can of diet soda and sat back down to join Bob at the table. Bob took a few sips of his soup before he began his narrative.

"Well Mike and I, you remember Mike Thompson?" Maria nodded as she sipped her soda. "Well he and I have been working on this top secret project for the past two years. Top secret to everyone but the two of us, which isnt exactly playing by the rules down at the Institute, but we had our reasons for keeping this one under such tight wraps." Bob often referred to URI as the Institute when he wasnt at work. Old habit he supposed. "Well today was the day to present our project to the company board of directors. It was a big presentation."

"I would guess it was, considering you had worked on it for two years. How did the board receive it?"

"Well Mike and I decided not to let the rest of the board know that he was in on the project, in case there was some fallout about it being kept from everyone for two years. Some on the board, including Dr. Sutton, feel very strongly about working together as a team. I am an original board member, so I knew the sanctions against me might be minimal, but Mike is newer and has a family to consider. Besides, it was my idea really, he just helped me with it."

"I see," said Maria. She tried not to cringe when Bob mentioned the word family. Even after all these years, she still felt a twinge of regret over their decision not to adopt. She knew it was the right one, but the maternal instincts could not be suppressed entirely. She never wanted to let on to her husband that she still felt the loss, though. She didnt want to burden him with these silly feelings of hers.

Bob crushed some crackers in his soup and continued. "The board did like my project and voted to have me continue it. I was very relieved."

"I bet you were. I am sure it is a great project. You are a very brilliant robot scientist," Maria beamed with pride. Even though she would never understand this fascination with robots, she knew her husband was doing important work for the good of mankind and she was proud of him all the same.

"Well the project isnt finished yet." Bob paused to take another spoonful of the soup. He allowed it to slowly enter his mouth and took his time before he swallowed it. He was trying to build up the nerve to continue. "Phase one is complete, and I needed the boards approval for phase two."

"Which you got?", asked Maria.

Bob nodded and took another lingering spoonful. Then he took a long tug on the beer and said, "The thing of it is, I need your help for the next phase." Bob saw Maria stiffen up in her seat and hastily added, "I know we promised each other not to involve the other in our work, but this is different."

"How is this different," asked Maria, trying not to overreact to this breach of long standing understanding in their relationship.

"We need an expert in human psychology to continue. Maybe it would help if I tried to explain the project."

"Well, I am not sure I understand why you would need a human psychologist for work with robots, but go on, I am intrigued."

Bob took another swallow of his beer and thought that this was a good sign, her being intrigued. Dont blow this now, old man, he thought to himself. "Well I know you are familiar with the work that is done at NASA."

"Yes, in fact I was asked in as a consultant a few years back when they were doing studies on the long term psychological effects of long stays in space on the astronauts." Maria thought that two could play at this game. If Bob was breaking the rules by talking about his work, then she could add a little of her own to the conversation.

"I remember when you went to Washington for a few months back then. I didnt know you were working for NASA though." Hummm, Bob thought, what else had she been keeping from him.... but then in all honesty he had not shared with her every trip he took either. Part of that damn bargain again. Maybe when this was over, they could think about renegotiating that... Bob shook his side thoughts from his mind and continued. "Well you know then that NASA is having a hard time selling the general public on the notion of having a manned mission to Mars."

"Yes, that was one of the things our study was supposed to determine. We used long space shuttle missions as a test case, but the findings were inconclusive."

"I dont know if you knew this, but NASA has also been having problems with the unmanned probes it is sending up. They are currently experiencing a 50% failure rate. When the system in one of these probes acts up, they cant seem to get the probe to respond to corrections in their programming. It means a loss of time and money to NASA and the taxpayers are getting a bit testy about their money being wasted like that."

"I can understand that," Maria said.

"Well there was one successful mission a few years back, the Pathfinder, and this gave the people at NASA the itch to start to plan a mission that would ultimately send humans to Mars to explore it, so they wouldnt have to rely on machines."

"All of this is interesting, but where do you, and more to the point, I, come into all of this?"

Bob paused and smiled, taking his wifes hand. "Well I had a brainstorm two years ago about the possibility of sending robots to Mars instead of humans."

"That sounds logical. What did NASA think of the idea?"

"NASA doesnt see that a robot would be any different than one of their probes, just more expensive." Bob remembered the day his idea got shot down in front of the NASA board and frowned. "So I got another idea. What if a robot was made so that it could think and reason as a human being does? Then it could make decisions independent of mission control if placed in a situation that called for intuitive reasoning. It still wouldnt be human lives we would be risking, but the robots would be the next best thing. We would also make them as close to humans physically as well, so that they would react to environmental concerns as humans would. They could also be trained to set up shelters for the humans who would come after them. It wouldnt take away all the risk factors of a manned mission, but it would reduce many of them when humans finally do have the opportunity to explore and colonize Mars."

Maria thought about this a while. Bob let her have the time she needed to let this much of the plan sink in. If she could be made to see the need for such a robot, maybe she would see the need for her part in the project. He finished eating his soup while she sipped on her soda and pondered. Finally, after several minutes, she said, "What you are proposing makes sense. The general public might be willing to support such a plan. But, forgive me if I am wrong, arent robots that act and look like humans in the realm of science fiction?"

"Most people think so, but what if I were to tell you that for the past two years, Mike and I, with the unknowing help of our colleagues, have succeeded to create such a human form robot."

"Well I wouldnt know what to say, except that you do have a tendency of accomplishing what you set out to do. I am happy that you have solved NASAs problem and will probably make a lot of money for your company, as well as the prestige it will bring you." Maria stood up and went over to Bob and put her arms around his shoulders and neck. "I have always been proud of you, sweetheart. You are the smartest man I know and I love you for it." She kissed him sweetly on the lips. Bob returned her affection, but wondered if she would feel the same about him when he finally finished his narrative. When they had disengaged themselves from this display of affection, Maria said, "This has been a big day for you, but I am still puzzled. You did mention that this was only phase one. And you mentioned that you needed me for phase two."

"Lets go into the den and get more comfortable and I will explain the rest to you." Bob got up and took his dishes to the sink and put the cracker box back in the cupboard. Maria put the rest of the soup in a plastic container and put it in the refrigerator. Placing the pot in the sink with the bowl and spoon, she followed Bob to the den and sat on the couch next to him.

"Maria, being an expert on humans and how they think, what, in your expert opinion, makes a human brain unique?"

Maria thought about that a moment and then answered, "I guess the ability to learn and adapt. I mean, animals will learn some and do adapt to their environment, but humans do this better than any other species. Maybe it is the ability to look outside themselves and assess their world on the larger scale and adapt to that. Human psychologists think intuition in humans is far superior to plain instinct in animals because humans have the ability to feel. Emotions are unique to human beings. Is this what you were getting at?"

Bob smiled, "Exactly. See, I told the board that you were the perfect person for this job. You understand human beings better than anyone I know."

"Flattery will get you everywhere with the right person, but I am still not sure where you are going with this. Better try a different approach." Maria grinned to let her husband know that she was still interested in his problem, but that he better come up with a better reason for wanting her help.

Bob continued. "One of the problems we faced in making a robot that would reason like a human being is finding out how to make its positronic brain more like a human brain. Humans are almost exclusively the only species that has to learn all of its behaviors. As far as facts are concerned, it is easy to program a robots positronic brain with all the knowledge of every encyclopedia ever written. But fact arent enough. Intuitive reasoning is based on more than facts, they are based on human instincts, which have a foundation in our emotional makeup."

Maria was getting a bit excited with this intellectual discussion. Maybe she had been wrong to insulate herself from her husbands work all these years. Maybe the science of robots wasnt as cold and unfeeling as she was led to believe. "Yes, and I can see what you are facing by trying to construct a different kind of robot."

Bob took the smile on Marias face and the enthusiasm in her voice as a positive sign and it breathed new life into his tired brain. "We came to the conclusion that we could program some basic responses to human emotions into a positronic brain, but that ultimately the brain would have to learn human emotional responses just like other humans do in order to be taught efficiently."

Maria looked puzzled for a moment. "Are you telling me you can make a robot that can feel human emotions?"

Bob shook his head. "No, robots can never be made to feel like humans feel, but I think they can be made to respond to human emotions in appropriate ways and then be able to sense what humans need to survive in a hostile environment. This would give them the ability to think intuitively, independent of any human master, for lack of a better word. I believe such a robot could be made to be seen as an equal to humans and partners in exploration, taking the risks that humans shouldnt have to, but being given the chance to contribute to the decision making processes needed for a colonies survival. Humans would still be the superior, but robots would take their place beside them, not as master and slave, which they are now, but as partners."

"And you have developed such a robot to be trained in the art of intuitive reasoning and interpretation of human emotions?"

Bob nodded. "And that is where you come in, my dear. As a robotist, I can only program a positronic brain with information. But as a human psychologist, you could teach him how to sense human emotions and how to best respond to them, thus giving him the tools to think intuitively, and ultimately, independently. I was able to sell the board on having you do the job because we have a security factor to consider. A robot capable of doing what we hope this one will do would be highly valuable and subject to industrial espionage. Since you are the wife of a respected employee and the creator of the robot, you would be the best security risk the company could find. Would you consider taking on this challenge."

Maria laughed. "You are asking me to teach a robot how to be a human?"

"In a nutshell, yes."

Maria thought some more. "Well I spent my whole life trying to get humans to respond correctly to other humans emotions, I guess it would be a change to see if I could get a robot to do what many humans find hard to do!" She laughed again.

Bob was glad Maria was taking this so lightheartedly. "I am glad you are willing to help out. Let me bring your subject in so you can meet him."

Maria stood and froze in panic, "YOU BROUGHT IT HOME WITH YOU?!?!?!", she shouted. "Oh My GOD, Robert, what were you thinking? You know I wont have a robot in my house!"

Bob stood up. All his preparation work was going down the toilet fast. He went over to Maria and put his arm around her. "I thought you wanted to work with me on this?"

Maria brushed his arm aside. "Sure, but I thought I was going to be down at the Institute, working with the other scientists?"

Bob tried to sit her down but she stubbornly refused. "No, sweetheart, in order for him to adjust and learn to respond like a human, he must be in a normal, human setting. The lab is no place for that. Dont you see, you will have to interact with him in your normal, everyday, HUMAN settings."

Maria took a big breath and got her nerves under control. "I guess I can see your point. A sterile lab is no place for a psychiatrists couch, and it wouldnt be a good place to study human nature either. I just wish you would have asked me first before you brought IT home. By the way, where do you have IT stashed?"

"HE is outside on the patio next to the pool waiting for me to bring HIM in to introduce you to HIM," Bob said. He wanted her to get used to the fact that these robots would have gender and should be treated as close to humans as possible. "Are you ready for me to bring him in?"

"Does it look like a human male, is that why you are insisting on calling it HIM?"

"Yes, we were able to make him a male robot. He is anatomically normal for a male in his mid-twenties. If the project is a success, we have plans to make females and even robots that look different ages."

"Why a male in his twenties for the first one?"

Bob smiled, "Well, when you meet him, maybe that will answer your question."

Maria remained standing as Bob went out through the French doors and onto the patio. He signaled to Freddie that he was ready to introduce him to his wife and waited as Freddie brought all of his systems back to normal function. They then turned and entered the Hawkings home. Bob took Freddie by the arm and led him over to Maria. Her eyes got wide as Bob said, "Maria, I would like you to meet HFR 1, or as we call him down at the Institute, Freddie. Freddie this is my wife, Dr. Maria Hawkings."

"Hola, Senora Hawkings, it is nice to make your acquaintance," Freddie said in a thick Hispanic accent, imitating the actor he was patterned after. He put his right hand out to shake Marias, but at that moment Maria let out a little scream and ran from the room.


Freddie looked at Bob and said, "Friend Bob, did I say something wrong?"

"I dont think so, Freddie. Wait here and I will find out what is wrong with Maria."

"Yes, Friend Bob, but please tell your wife I did not mean any harm to her."

Bob smiled reassuringly at Freddie. "I am sure you didnt do anything of the sort. Ill be back soon," and he left Freddie standing in the middle of the den.

Bob searched the house, not wanting to call out Marias name for fear of setting her off again. When he came to the master bedroom, he noticed the door to the bathroom closed and light emanating from the crack at the bottom of the door. Guessing that this is where his wife retreated to, he gently knocked on the door.

"Maria, are you ok?" He knew it was a stupid question, but he didnt know what else to say.

"No and I doubt anything you could say at the moment would change that," came the answer from behind the door. Bob could tell by the tone of her voice that she was crying.

"Look, I know that you are upset, and I want to help, believe me. Whatever I did, I didnt do on purpose. Let me in so we can talk about it and I can try to understand why you are so upset."

Maria reluctantly opened the door. They had fights before, but both had agreed that if the offending partner was wanting to make amends, the other would be big about allowing them to do so. "I dont know if you can understand, but I will allow you to try."

"Well can you tell me what upset you, and maybe I can explain."

Maria took the tissue in her hands, which was wet with her tears and blew her nose. Calming herself enough to talk, she said, "I only have one thing to say, WHY?"

Bob looked genuinely puzzled. "Why what?"

"Why did you make your robot look like HIM?"

Bob tried to put his arm around his wife, but he could see she was still too upset to allow him to do that. So in his gentlest voice he said, "Well I knew I would have to try very hard to get you to accept this assignment and I thought that if the robot looked like someone you knew you would be more inclined to accept him."

"Yes, well, maybe, but why HIM?", Maria sobbed.

"Well," Bob hesitated. For the life of him he thought she would be pleased, not upset. But how could he tell her that and not upset her further? "I guess I knew how much you had admired him and I needed to use someone who wasnt living, or I could get into a lot of legal trouble. Honestly, I thought you would be pleased."

Maria shook her head and tried not to cry anymore. She felt she needed to regain some control over her emotions to make any sense to Bob. "I guess maybe you dont understand. My memories of Freddie are good ones, but painful too, since he is not here any longer. Making a robot to look like him isnt going to bring him back, you know."

Bob was beginning to realize the crux of the problem. "I never intended my robot to be like bringing Freddie back to life. I know he is and always will be a robot, a facsimile of the real thing. I only thought that if he looked and acted like Freddie, you would warm up to him and accept him sooner. I had hoped he would have put you more at ease with being with a robot. I know how much you abhor being with robots. I guess part of the experiment is also to see if ordinary humans would accept robot partners. So designing Freddie as I did, I tried to get you to accept him, not make you think I had brought the dead to life. Im not God and I dont plan on taking His job."

Maria dried her eyes on a fresh tissue. "I guess I see your point. I guess it was just a shock to see Freddie standing there in the flesh, so to speak. My emotions went on overload." Allowing Bob to finally take her in his embrace, she said, "I guess my first lesson as a teacher was to teach robots how rude humans can be."

"I dont know if he can understand what it is to be rude, but I am sure if we explain why you were distressed to him, he will try his best not to let it happen again. I know robots cant feel distress, but somehow I think in a robot way he is. He kept asking me if he did anything to make you respond to him the way you did. I tried to reassure him that it wasnt anything he did or said. Maybe he needs you to reassure him as well. His main function is to please his human owners, so his positronic brain is probably spinning trying to make sense of all of this. Do you feel up to going out and helping him to understand?"

Maria straightened up and said, "I guess. Maybe this job will be more of a challenge than I thought. I suppose I owe him and you an explanation."

"Not me, but I think he would function better if he could be made to understand." Bob led Maria back out to the den.

Freddie looked at Maria, not knowing what he should do. He decided it would be best to let the humans make the first move. Maria walked up to Freddie, took his right hand in hers and said, "I want to ask you to forgive my rudeness."

"Rudeness?", Freddie said with questioning in his voice. "The act of being uncivil. I am not sure you were being rude to me. I have been attempting to reason the events and all I can deduce from your actions it that you were surprised by me."

Maria smiled, "That is an understatement. You are right, I was not prepared for you."

Freddie looked at Bob with a puzzled look. "I thought you had prepared Dr. Hawkings for my appearance."

Bob shuffled around, embarrassed. "Well I did, except I didnt tell her who you looked like. That was the trouble. She was shocked to see you as Freddie Prinze."

"Oh," Freddie said and then grew thoughtful. "But I thought you said she would be pleased that I looked like someone she admired."

Maria cut in, "Look, em.. Freddie... Robert was wrong. But not because I dont admire the man you resemble. Did he tell you that Freddie Prinze is dead?"

"Yes, Senora Hawkings, he did tell me that fact."

"Did he tell you how he died?"

"Yes, all information on the human I resemble has been programmed into my positronic pathways."

"Well, let me see if I can help you to understand why I was not only surprised, but shocked to see you standing here." Maria thought hard about how to explain what she didnt really understand herself. How can you explain to a machine, even though he looked human, how the human heart works. "I admire Freddie Prinze for what he was, but the way he died was a big shock to those of us who did admire him. We humans sometime wish we could change the way things happen, and maybe I thought that my husband was trying to change things for me by bringing Freddie back from the dead. I know this sounds a bit irrational, but I guess the first thing you will need to learn about humans is that they think irrationally much of the time."

"I guess that you will not want to be my teacher because I will be too painful a reminder of this man."

Maria smiled again. Listening to the robot talk like Freddie and even display his mannerisms made her realize that she could get used to having a robot around for a little while. Maybe Robert was right after all. It would make it easier for her to accept him in her house being someone who was familiar to her. Getting over her initial shock, she was beginning to warm up to the idea of having Freddie be a part of her life. "Freddie," she said, "I would be honored to be a part of your education into the nature of human beings. It has been my lifes work, the study of human behavior. I hope I can live up to your expectations."

"I am sure you will be a worthy teacher, Senora Hawkings." Freddie turned to Bob and said, "Friend, Bob. I think it would be best to show me to where I will be staying when you are in your rest period. I am sure you will want to be with your wife without my presence." Freddie then turned to Maria and took her right hand. Raising it to his lips he said, "I know I am only a machine, but I want to thank you like a human for your agreeing to teach me." And he kissed her hand.

Maria looked at Bob and he knew she was wanting to know why Freddie would kiss her hand. "HFR 1 has been programmed with many of Freddies mannerisms, so he responds to you as the real Freddie might have."

"Oh, I see," was all Maria could think to say.

Bob led Freddie to the library. Maria followed, wanting to see what instructions her husband would give the robot. "Freddie, I would like you to spend time in our library. As you can see, we have a large collection of books. Both Maria and I have collected books on our areas of expertise as well as many volumes of fiction and non fiction on a wide variety of topics. I am sure my wife would concur with me that one of the best ways to learn about humans is to read their literature."

"Yes, my husband is right," Maria joined in. "Our library is open for your use. If there are any other texts you will require, I will be sure to supply them from our public library. You might also wish to view our television programs and use our computer. Both are available to you at any time, but if I am asleep, I ask you to turn the sound down so as not to disturb my rest. The TV is in the den and the computer in the room across the hall from this one."

Bob and Maria left Freddie to peruse the titles in their library and made their way down the hall to the bedroom. It was getting late and Bob still needed to prepare Maria for the fact that he would not be around when Maria was conducting phase two with Freddie. As he suspected, she didnt take the news well.

"But Robert, I dont know what I would do with a robot all day and night long for who knows how long. I thought you would be with me."

"Look, you are in good hands. All you have to do is go about your normal life, just include Freddie in it. I would suggest you spend a week getting him used to speaking more like a human and then maybe take him to work so he can get used to other humans too. Introduce him as a cousin or something. I am sure you could find something for him to do at your work. I will be in touch with you every week. I have more work to do on this project at the Institute, so I will be there if you need me."

Maria sighed. They had spent months away from each other before, on work related trips, but this was different. She never liked being away from Robert for long periods of time, but she got used to the solitude. Now she would be away from him, but with a stranger in the house. She didnt like it. "Look, at least give me the option of calling it quits if I feel it isnt working out."

"Agreed. But I know you, once you start on this project, you will get to enjoying it. I really appreciate this and I promise I will make it up to you when it is over." Bob kissed his wife and led her to bed.

"I know what is on your mind, mister, and it is on mine too. But before we do, answer me one thing. Will I be doing this job for all of your new robots?"

Bob smiled, "No, that is the beauty of this. If you do a great job with Freddie, you will actually be training him to teach the others like him that will come in the future. I dont intend Freddie to go into space, but stay on Earth and train the other human form robots who will be going into space."

"Ok, one robot, and one robot only. Ill do it, but only because I cant resist you!" And Maria and Bob shared the intimacy of their marriage vows for what Maria thought would be the last time for a long time.

Bob left early the next morning, wanting Maria to wake up to the realization that she was committed to this project. Maria slept in, owing to the fact that it was Saturday and she had no patients scheduled for that day. After a leisurely shower, she made her way to the kitchen to fix herself some breakfast. She was startled to see Freddie, forgetting for a moment the events of the night before. He appeared to be fixing French toast on the griddle on the stove.

"Buenas Dias, Senora Hawkings. I hope you dont mind, but Dr. Hawkings told me that you do not like to cook and even gave me a list of things you enjoy eating. He told me that French toast was one of your favorite breakfasts."

"No, that is fine, but I dont expect you to be my servant, waiting on me hand and foot, you know. I know some people employ robots to do that, but I have never felt comfortable enough with robots to allow Robert to get us one."

"Dr. Hawkings explained all of this to me, Senora Hawkings. I am aware of the fact that I am not here to be your servant robot, but I wanted to show you that I can be useful to you in areas where I know you would appreciate it."

Maria sat down as Freddie brought over the plate of steaming French toast. A cup of coffee was already on the table next to the perfectly set place setting. "Where did you learn to cook?"

Freddie stood at her side after he placed the plate on the table. "Domestic duties are a normal part of programming, Senora Hawkings."

Maria waved her hand at Freddie, indicating to him she wished for him to sit down on the chair opposite her. "I know robots dont need to consume food, so I hope you dont mind if I try your delicious looking French toast in front of you."

"Not at all. You cannot offend a robot. That is a human trait. I hope you find them to your liking, Senora Hawkings."

Maria put a bite of toast into her mouth and chewed slowly, savoring the flavors. "Mmm this is delicious. I taste a hint of something I dont normally put in my French toast...."

"I think it might be the vanilla extract. I know it is not a usual ingredient, but in study of cooking, I found that some cooks use it to enhance the flavor. Does it meet with your approval, Senora Hawkings?"

"Yes, but Freddie would you do me a favor."

"I am here to please you, Senora Hawkings."

"We are going to spend a lot of time together, so I would prefer if you would just call me Maria, OK?"

Freddie smiled. "As you wish, Friend Maria."

"Just Maria would be fine. I noticed you used that term Friend with my husband last night. It is not a title that is used as a part of normal human speech."

Freddie looked a bit puzzled. "It is a term robots are programmed with if we wish to refer to someone in the informal, but if it is not a part of normal human vocabulary, maybe it would be best if I didnt use it."

"I think that would be a good idea. I know you might not require thanks, but I want to thank you for the wonderful breakfast." Maria took a sip of her coffee and winced. "Whoa, the coffee on the other hand....."

"Did I prepare it incorrectly?" Freddie had a look of concern on his face. Maria thought how it looked so natural and how she would really have to get used to a robot who actually used human facial expressions.

"Well, you probably followed a standard recipe for making coffee, but you will find that humans have different tastes and different ideas about how to make coffee. I dont cook much, but I am particular about my coffee. If you dont mind, maybe I should make the coffee from now on."

"Would you make one pot and let me taste it. I am sure I can duplicate it in the future to your liking."

Now it was Marias turn to be puzzled. "I didnt think you ate or drank."

Freddie smiled as they made their way over to the coffee pot on the counter. "I am a fully functional human form robot. I do not need to eat or drink to sustain my functionality, but I am capable of doing both. Dr. Hawkings reasoned that it might be advantageous for a robot to consume food in a social setting, and I do have the capacity to analyze the chemical makeup of any food or drink by consuming it as humans do."

"Oh, I see," Maria said. She emptied the rest of the coffee Freddie had made in the sink and got out the coffee and made another pot. Freddie studied her every move and when the coffee was brewed, she offered him a cup, fixed the way she liked it, with just a hint of the special hazelnut creamer she kept in the refrigerator. Freddie sipped it slowly and then said, "I have the formula now, and I will be able to duplicate this whenever you feel like a cup of coffee in the future."

Maria sipped her coffee as she resumed eating breakfast. "Well I appreciate you wanting to help me out, but remember, I am here to teach you about human behavior and you are here to learn, not to wait on me hand and foot."

"I understand my function, Maria."

Maria continued eating and Freddie asked, "May I inquire something of you, Maria?"

"Yes, and I will have to start to teach you how not to be so formal with your speech patterns."

"I would like to learn that, yes. What I want to ask you might be personal, do you mind me asking you personal questions sometimes?"

Maria thought about this, "No I guess not. I guess the best way to learn about humans is to get personal with them. That is what I do all the time with my patients. But please understand, most humans dont like when other humans ask them personal questions, unless they have given them permission to do so."

"I understand and I will try not to ask anyone else unless you tell me it is the correct thing to do."

Maria corrected him, "It is OK."

Freddie looked at her, "I do not understand."

"You should say OK when you mean correct. It is a more informal way of saying that."

Freddie started slowly, like a child learning to speak, "O.K...., Maria."

"I am sorry I interrupted you, ask your question."

"May I ask how you knew the man I was made to resemble. It might help me to act more like him and more human if I knew."

Maria pondered this one for a bit. "Well, do you understand the blood relationships in a human family?"

"Yes, I have been programmed with that information," Freddie said.

"Humm, that is too formal," Maria thought a moment. "When a human has knowledge, he or she just says that they are aware of the knowledge, or just that they know it, maybe even that they had been told it. Maybe you should try one of these phrases. Anyway, Freddies last name wasnt always Prinze, he was originally Pruetzel."

Freddie tried out Marias suggestion, "I have been told all about the life of Freddie Prinze who was formally Freddie Pruetzel."

Maria smiled, "That sounds better, Freddie. Well maybe you know much of his life, but there are things that have never been in print or made public. I am sure you know his mother was from the island nation of Puerto Rico and I am sure my husband probably told you that my mother was from the same place."

"Yes, I was aware of both facts," answered Freddie.

"Good, you are sounding more human already. Well both Freddies mother and my mother came to the United States to live, but they didnt know one another. Freddie was born in New York City and I was born in a small town on Long Island. But Freddies cousins in Puerto Rico knew my cousins who lived there too. When I was 14 I went to Puerto Rico to visit my cousins for the summer. It turns out that Freddie was there that summer visiting his cousins. It was at a beach party that I met Freddie. He was 16 that summer and we struck up a friendship. It was the only time I had met him. When the summer was over, we went back to our respective homes and lost touch with each other. When Freddie became a professional actor and comedian, I saw his show and followed his career. He was a very talented young man. His death was a very hard thing for me to deal with." Maria looked down, trying to hide the sadness that came over her at that moment. Remembering the past was always a painful thing for her.

"I see that remembering this information and telling it to me has made you sad, Maria. I am sorry I made you sad." Freddie frowned.

"Its ok, sometimes humans will be sad and there is nothing you can do about it but let it pass. A human life isnt all happiness, I am afraid. There is a lot of human suffering you will have to witness and get used to in order to start to understand humans."

"I see," Freddie said, but he still had a look of distress on his face. "It is in the basic programming of every robot not to let harm come to human beings. It is the core of the First Law. It will be hard to witness human suffering and not be able to do something about it. I guess I could say that it distresses me to think that there will be times I will not be able to help a human being avoid suffering. I do not have feelings, but it makes my positronic pathways run with less efficiency when I cannot help. I think that is what humans feel as distress."

Maria smiled, "That is a very good way to look at it, Freddie. When humans are distressed, their brains dont function efficiently either. We call that not thinking too straight. And I am familiar with the three laws of robotics. Last night my husband told them to me because he thought it would be useful for me to know them while I was working with you."

"Yes, that would be useful information for you to have. I guess you are learning as much about robots as I am learning about humans in this part of the project."

Maria nodded and got up to take the breakfast dishes to the sink. Freddie loaded them into the dishwasher and asked Maria what she had planned for today. She told him that she needed to go shopping and was going to do some much needed housework. Freddie asked if he could come with her and help her. He promised not to say much, so he would not give away the fact that he wasnt human. Maria thought it might be a good idea to get Freddie started on viewing humans in their own environment. She knew Robert wanted her to keep Freddie at the house for a week before taking him out into the world, but Maria felt she had made good progress with him already to risk the outing.

They headed to the garage where Marias car sat next to the empty bay where Bob had driven into last night. Freddie got into the passenger side of the car and as Maria started up the engine and shifted into reverse to back out, he remarked, "You will have to instruct me on the procedures for operating this motorized vehicle."

"You want me to teach you how to drive?" Maria asked, half correcting his speech pattern and half incredulous that a robot would want to learn such a menial task.

"Si, senora. I think I would be of great value to you and humans in general if I...", Freddie hesitated as he remembered how Maria put the question, "..learned how to drive."

"Well I dont know how good of a teacher I would be about that, but if you observe what I do, you might be able to pick up how I do it. I will also stop by the library and get you a manual on how to drive. In fact, maybe the library would be a good stop to make anyway. I know my husband and I have quite an extensive library, but you might want to look for more titles on human behavior and anything else you think might be of educational interest. You dont have a library card, and you cant get one without identification, but I will sign out anything you need." Maria pulled into traffic and then thought of something. "The lack of identification might be a problem for getting a drivers license, too. Maybe I need to call Robert and see what he can do. I dunno if he can obtain a phony birth certificate and social security number for you, but I know he will try if it is important enough. Lets not worry about that now, though."

After driving a few miles, Maria pulled into the local supermarket parking lot. As they entered the store, Maria grabbed the nearest cart and started down the first aisle. Freddie, after close observation of other customers in the store, deduced what the cart was for and offered to push it for Maria, freeing her up to make her selections. Thanking Freddie, she handed it over to him and proceeded to look for the things she needed. Never really good with figures, Freddie proved to be useful when doing some comparative shopping, so at the checkout Maria discovered she had saved a considerable sum on her bill. Smiling she told Freddie as they loaded the groceries in the back of the Lexus, "You are a very useful guy to have around, Freddie. I am sure Robert will be happy that you are helping me save some money!"

"I am pleased that I could be of service." Freddie smiled back at Maria, reminding her of the real Freddie.

"I have been meaning to ask you, who taught you to smile? I didnt think robots displayed emotions."

"Friend Bob was able to program my positronic brain with the necessary commands to allow my facial muscles to respond to human emotional states. I have learned some of the appropriate responses, but need you to teach me more of them. I observe the facial expressions you make and make the connections with the emotional state you are in. But sometimes I might need to ask you questions to help me make the correct connections."

Maria pondered what Freddie told her and said, "I see." She only understood some of what he said, but she guessed that it didnt really matter that she understood how he could do things, just that he did them and her husbands programming Freddie to do them was important to the project. "Your smile is very much like the real Freddies, you know."

"Friend Bob had me watch the tapes of Freddie Prinze in order for me to mimic his facial expressions. Does it please you that I am able to do so?"

Maria smiled and found herself taking Freddies right hand into her own. She noticed that it resembled the real deal as much as his smile did. She remembered how she used to love to have Freddie hold her smaller hand in his larger one. "Yes, Freddie, it does please me. Freddies smile was one of the best things I remember about him. I am glad you have his smile."

Maria and Freddie drove home to put the groceries away. Maria told Freddie that it might have been more efficient of her to go to the library first, but since that trip was an afterthought to her regularly scheduled activities for the day, she forgot when she drove to the supermarket first. It was a warm day for late September and she didnt want the food to spoil in a warm car. Freddie helped her in with the bags and Maria instructed him where she kept the various items. When the groceries had all been put away, she grabbed a can of soda from the refrigerator and sat down to drink it. Freddie excused himself to the library, saying that he wanted to memorize the titles of her library before going to the public one. "I can make an inventory of your titles so I will know what I dont need to check out."

"You can memorize all of them?"

Freddie smiled with an almost pride in his expression. "I am programmed to memorize many facts efficiently. It is a useful part of my programming to be able to do so."

Maria nodded, "I bet it is. I am terrible with lists." Freddie left her and she was able to do some reminiscing while he was gone. She closed her eyes and transported herself back to the time when she was 16 and in Puerto Rico. She didnt return there very often since that summer, only because the memories of that summer were bittersweet. She didnt like to be reminded of her loss. Thinking about the real Freddie made her realize that she would have to ask the robot if he got the chance to view all of Freddies work. If not, she wanted him to get the full treatment of Freddies talent. She had collected all of the episodes of his show as well as the one TV movie he made. She had also been fortunate to obtain several TV guest appearance he had made in his brief career. She only wished there was more to show him.

As Maria was making these mental notes to herself, Freddie returned to the kitchen. "I am prepared to taken to your public library."

Maria got, drained the last of her can of pop, and placed the can in the recycling bin. "That was quick."

"I am able to memorize in a very efficient manner. I am now ready to see what your public library has to offer."

Maria and Freddie headed back out to the car once again. On the way to the library, Maria asked Freddie how many episodes of the show he was given to watch at the Institute. "I was able to watch 22 episodes. I think Friend Bob told me that this was the complete first season of the show."

"Was that all my husband made available to you?"


Maria then thought of how Freddies talent developed after that first season. "I have the complete three seasons of the show on tape as well as other things Freddie did. I think it might be useful to view these as well. We have a tape machine in the den next to the TV. I would like to make these available to you as well." Then Maria thought of her magazine collection. She had been purchasing old magazine articles on Freddie since she was a teenager and continued to find more online in later years. "I have some other literature on Freddies life and career that I think might be of interest to you as well. I know you are mostly interested in learning about human behavior, but since my husband thought it was necessary to make you resemble a particular human, maybe it might be instructive to learn all you can about him too."

"I think that would be very informative and useful, thank you Maria for thinking of it."

"No problen," she answered in her markedly Hispanic accent and laughed. Freddie didnt get the joke, so he asked her why she laughed. "I laughed because the real Freddie used to say that all the time. It makes me feel good to remember his little expressions and jokes."

"I see. It is part of your pleasant memories of the man."


They continued to the library and parked in a spot near the entrance. Maria escorted Freddie in the front door and when he got to the place where the scanners stood, he hesitated. "I am detecting a magnetic field here."

"Oh, that is so people dont take books out of the library without checking them out. If they did that, then the library wouldnt be able to keep track of who has them. They used to lose a lot of books that way, before this security measure was put in place."

"I understand. Humans even steal books?"

Maria winced. "Humans are libel to steal anything if they get the notion."

"But I thought stealing was against the law, both civil and moral." Freddie looked puzzled.

"Yes, but unlike robots who cannot break their three laws, human will break both civil and moral laws if they think it will benefit their own desires. There is more to humans than you know. I know the first robotic law speaks of not harming humans, but humans will justify harming other humans if they think they will benefit from that harm. Maybe robots will have to be programmed with another law someday, one that talks about harm not coming to humanity, and not just individual humans."

"I am programmed with all the civil and moral laws of humans, and I can see the good they would be to humanity, but I still dont understand this compulsion humans have to break their own laws."

Maria smiled. "Well I cant help you there, because I have a hard time understanding that too. My field is in normal human psychology, not abnormal. I guess it is normal for humans to act and feel selfish, it is part of the human experience. But most normal humans will abide by the laws that govern us. We all have the capacity to break the laws, but thankfully most of us resist that urge."

"I think I will need more instruction on this, maybe I should look at books on that subject." Freddie looked at the magnetic devices in front of them. "I am afraid, Maria, that my own magnetic field in my positronic brain might disrupt this field, and that might make the library think we are trying to remove books without checking them out."

"Oh, well we dont want to set off the alarms. I dont know if I could explain why they went off without revealing who you really are. Maybe you should stay outside."

Freddie pondered a moment. "No, Maria, that will not be necessary. I think I can shield my magnetic field from this one enough to allow me to pass. If you would take my hand and guide me through, I will turn off my higher level brain functions, to minimize my magnetic field. My lower level functions should make the field low enough to avoid detection by this device."

Maria looked puzzled, "What ever you say. I dont understand what you are talking about, but if you think it will work, than we will try it." Maria noticed that Freddies face became almost devoid of expression, and she was able to ascertain that he was ready to be manually led through the detectors. She breathed a sigh of relief when they passed through and no alarms went off.

As soon as they were on the other side, Freddie regained the expressions humans have when their brains are in a thinking mode. "I am presuming that we were successful since there are no alarms going off."

"Yes. Now to go in search of books." Maria led Freddie to the bank of computer terminals on the far wall. "This is the card catalogue. It contains a record of all the books this library contains. It is categorized by subject, title or author. Since you might not be familiar with titles or authors, maybe you should stick to a subject search." Maria showed him how to enter the information on the computer screen, and, being that Freddie was programmed in computer usage, he was able to peruse the catalogue without further instructions. Maria went to the next terminal and decided to search for the latest books by her favorite mystery authors.

When Freddie had memorized the call numbers of several titles he was interested in, Maria showed him to the shelves and instructed him how to find the sections he was looking for by looking at the end tags for the call number information for that section of shelves. Freddie was able to gather the needed books quite efficiently, so Maria risked leaving him to his task while she went in search of her own titles in the mystery fiction section. When both of them had the books they were looking for, Freddie carried them to the desk and Maria checked them out with her card. As before, Freddie put himself on low level functioning and Maria was able to lead him passed the magnetic detectors once again. Outside, Freddie and Maria walked to her car.

On the way home Freddie studied how Maria operated the car. One of the books he was able to check out of the library was a manual on how to drive. He also found a manual on Marias particular model of car. He had explained to her that he had been programmed with basic automotive knowledge, but thought it might be useful to know something about the particular model she drove. She laughed again and Freddie looked puzzled at her laughter. "What is amusing you, Maria?"

"Well you remember that the character Freddie played on his show was a mechanic. The conversation we are having reminds me of Chico."

"Hummm," Freddie murmured, remembering that Maria sometimes did this when she was thinking. "So you are telling me that remembering pleasant things makes you laugh?"

"Sometimes. I think in this case the memory is a bit ironic, and irony sometimes makes humans laugh too, if the irony is amusing."

Freddie shook his head. "I think of all of the human emotions, the one I find the hardest to understand is amusement. I know this might be considered an irony too, since I am made to resemble a person whose life was dedicated to amusing people with stories and antidotes."

Maria pulled into the driveway and stopped the car. She reached over and took both of Freddies hands in hers. "Freddie, my friend, I think you understand more than you might realize. I know you will get the hang of understanding humans, even what amuses them. But remember, humans are unique and different things might amuse different people. That doesnt only go for amusement. I think different people react differently emotionally to lots of situations. That might be the hardest thing for you to learn, only because most humans havent learned that either."

"Have you learned it, Maria?"

Maria looked down and shook her head. "I would like to think that I am better at understanding it than most humans, because of my training and experience dealing with humans, but even I dont know everything. Maybe no one ever will. But it is the learning that is the important thing here. Humans truly feel alive when they are learning new things."

"So maybe I wont learn it all either?"

"That is a possibility, but maybe the constant need to learn will make you more useful to humans in the long run. No one likes a know it all!" She laughed and Freddie tried to laugh with her, even tho he didnt get the joke. He did see how his laughter pleased her, and he understood the importance of that. He did learn one important lesson that day, humans were very complex creatures.



Over the next week, Freddie stayed at home while Maria went to work at the clinic where her office was located. He spent his time reading the books in the Hawkings library as well as the books he obtained at the library. When Maria came home, Freddie always had one of her favorite dishes prepared, so she rarely ate out during this time. After supper, Maria would take Freddie down to the local high school driving range to teach him how to drive. He had studied the manual and with her lessons he felt, by the end of the week, he was ready to apply for a license. Maria called Robert at work and let him know of Freddies progress, telling him of the desire Freddie had to obtain a drivers license. Robert told her it might be difficult to obtain the necessary identification needed to apply for a permit, but he would check into it and get back to her.

Maria also showed Freddie where she kept her collection of tapes and her magazine collection. She also showed him the sites she had bookmarked on her computer, containing all the information on Freddie Prinze that could be found online. Freddie spent his nights studying about the man he resembled, and began to realize why this man was so important to Maria. When he imitated little mannerisms of Freddies, Maria would smile. Freddie wasnt sure why he liked to see Maria smile, only that pleasing her was good for his positronic pathways to function efficiently. He found himself wanting to study all that Maria liked in order to please her more and more. It would distress him to see her come home from work some evenings looking sad. She would tell him that some days she would have patients that were hard to talk to, and that would make her sad, but it was ok for her to be sad sometimes. Still Freddie didnt like to see her so down, so he would tell her some of the stories Freddie used to tell and that would make her smile again.

At dinner one evening, a week after Freddie had been with Maria, she announced that she had found a job for Freddie to do at her clinic. She explained that she wanted all of her files entered onto the computer the clinic had purchased for her. She told him that it would take her forever for her to do the job, and being that the files she kept were confidential, she didnt trust anyone else to do the job. But she knew Freddie wouldnt reveal any information in those files and would be able to do the job quickly. Freddie was pleased that Maria found something useful for him to do at her work. He gave Maria a big smile and said, "ALRIIIIIIGHT!" with all the inflection that his human counterpart put in that word. Maria laughed and hugged Freddie. "Thank you, Freddie, for being a part of my life. I guess I was ignorant to think robots couldnt be a help to me. You always know just how to cheer me up and you are very useful to me."

"I am glad I can be of assistance, Maria. You have been a great teacher so far. Maybe being at your work I can learn even more about other human beings. I know you told me that each human is unique in their emotional responses to things. I would like the opportunity to study this phenomena more."

"I guess you are ready for that. My office has a mirror in it that is really a one way mirror connected to the little room behind my office. I sometimes use it to observe my patients before I go in to see them. It helps me to get an idea of what mood they are in before I have to treat them. I have placed the computer terminal in that room because it was the only space I had available at the moment. I can turn on the speaker in that room so you can observe my sessions, but you have to promise not to reveal anything you hear in there. My patients confidentially is important to me, and people tend to be more free with how they are feeling if they know that they will not have their feelings revealed to anyone else."

Freddie thought a minute about that. "I will do as you request. I know that you care a lot for your patients, so I would not want to do anything to cause you or them distress."

"Then it is all set. We will start on Monday morning. In the meantime, I need to spend this weekend relaxing. I hope we hear from Robert soon about your identification. I know you want to go for your permit as soon as possible."

"I didnt have a chance to tell you, but Friend Bob called today. He was able to get a facsimile identification for me. He said he would be sending it over by courier tomorrow."

"Great." Maria got up from the table and put the dishes in the sink. "I hate to do this to you, Freddie, but I am very tired tonight. I think I am going to go to bed early. Maybe tomorrow we can plan to do something fun together."

"I understand. I will continue to read some of the books I obtained from your public library tonight. I would very much like to return there to obtain more books."

"Ok, that might be fun, and I would like to take you to some of the places people go to have fun. I want you to learn how humans relax and have fun."

"Good night, Maria. I will see you in the morning."

"Good night, Freddie." And without thinking, Maria bent down and kissed Freddie on the cheek. Freddie pondered this action as he watched Maria disappear around the corner of the hallway. He did up the dishes and after making sure the kitchen was spotless, he retired into the computer room. One of the things he had been doing, that he felt he didnt want to share with Maria just yet, was to check the message board on one of her favorite sites. He knew better than to post anything, but he was curious about some of the people who posted on there and how they felt about the human he resembled. He had read some of Marias posts as well, including some of her fantasies about the man they all admired. After the kiss, he was intrigued enough to go back and read some of them again.

Freddies identification papers came by courier the next morning. Maria promised Freddie that she would take him down to the department of motor vehicles after work on Monday to take his permit test. She knew he would be ready the next week to take the drivers test, but the state made a person wait a week between the written test and the drivers test. Once he obtained his drivers license he became Marias chauffeur as well.

Maria knew people in her husbands circle of friends and colleagues that owned robot servants. She never wanted that for herself for two reasons. She was always leery of robots but she was also fiercely independent. The thought of someone or something else assisting her in her every need was repugnant to her, yet over the weeks Freddie was with her, she found herself being charmed into allowing him to do for her what she swore she would never let another do. She often wondered why her resolve could be broken down so easily with Freddie. It was a question she couldnt seem to find an answer for. But Freddie knew.

It was in the third week that Freddie came to the realization that he could sense Marias emotional state. This was more than trying to interpret her facial expressions, body language or tone of voice. It was like he was slowly becoming aware of her moods and emotional state. He couldnt really read her mind, but his brain was more in tune with her emotional brain patterns. And it was at the end of that week, when Maria came into the room where her computer was located all upset because of something that happened with her last patient for the day, that Freddie discovered he could alter her emotional state.

Freddie had been working at the computer, filing endless patient files into the data base. He had the one way mirror on and the sound on the speaker turned up so he could see and hear what was going on in Marias office. A man who had been seeing Maria for several months was distraught because his wife, who was also a patient of Marias, had tried to commit suicide the night before. She was at the state hospital under observation, but the husband was blaming Maria for his wifes actions, telling her that she should have done something to prevent it. Maria tried her best to console the husband and explain that no one can prevent these things, but the husband was inconsolable. He finally left, vowing not to return. Maria remained calm while she showed him to the door, but after he was gone, she locked herself in her office and broke down sobbing.

Freddie listened and watched her for a few minutes, not knowing if he should intrude. He heard Maria chastise herself, almost echoing the words of the husband. His positronic pathways sped, almost on overload, as he sensed her despair and her confusion. He could tell that part of her was rationalizing what had occurred, but another part of her was blaming herself too. As he tried to understand her dichotomy of emotions, his thoughts reached out to hers as thoughts of how to console her went through his robot brain. He finally remembered all the people whos lives he had been filing and all the good Maria had done for them. As he recalled the details of each one, because all of the data was not only stored on the computer but in his brain as well, a sense of hope sprang to life in his thoughts and suddenly Maria stopped crying. She reached over the desk for a tissue and then walked out of her office and toward the computer/observation room.

Maria grabbed the knob and slowly opened the door. She looked at Freddie staring at her and said, "I guess you saw what just happened with Mr. Viale, didnt you?"

"Yes, Maria, I did." Freddie stated, but with a softness to his voice that he attempted to put there.

"It was funny, I really thought he might be right there for a while, but then I started to think of all my other patients. I cant save them all, I should know that. I hurt for Mrs. Viale, but sometimes there isnt anything anyone can do. I really thought I was a bad psychologist, but then I remembered all those whom I have helped. I wonder why I did that?"

Freddie was in a dilemma now. He knew why she thought of her other patients. He knew that he had altered her thoughts and helped her get over her depression about her latest case faster than she probably would have on her own. He didnt know if it would be the prudent thing to do to reveal this new found gift of his to her. He wasnt too sure about this gift himself. He felt he needed more time to explore its potential before humans discovered that he had it. So in an uncharacteristic move, he remained silent, not offering an answer to her question.

Maria didnt seem to notice his sudden silence. She just shook her head, as if to erase the memory of the past hour from her own brain. She looked at Freddie still standing there staring at her and asked, "How far did you get today?"

"Quite far, but your files are not in very good order. This might take longer than I had calculated."

"Oh, sorry. I am afraid I am not a very organized person. I have a receptionist, but I decided I didnt want anyone else to have access to these files, so I never hired a personal secretary. I guess 10 years of patients in this kind of disarray will take some time to enter into the computer."

"Yes, but I know I will make shorter work of it than any human might. I am glad I can be of service to you." Freddie smiled, hoping he would make her smile as well. He knew that his smile, patterned after the real Freddie always seemed to make Maria smile. He knew he was correct in this assessment when he saw a grin break across Marias face, mirroring the one on his own.

"Gracias, amigo. I do apreciate all the help you have been to me. I dont know why, but I find it easy to accept help from you. I never thought I would be able to do that." Maria shook her head and said, "Let me get my things and then we can go home and relax. Thank God it is Friday, I will need the weekend to recover from this afternoon."

As she left to go back to her office to retrieve her purse and coat, Freddie pondered her statement. He was beginning to realize that he might have been instrumental in getting her to accept him and his help in her life. Maybe he had been altering her thoughts longer than he had realize. He wondered how far he dared continue this practice. And he wondered how changing the thoughts of humans fit into the three laws of robotics. He rationalize his ability and the use of it by remembering that he was making Maria happier when he was using his gift, so it must be acceptable to do so.

The weeks went by as Freddie continued to study Maria and her patients. Maria, herself, was an interesting person. And, to Freddies satisfaction, he found she responded to his gentle prodding. He remembered not to touch her mind and alter her emotional state too much, but he found he didnt need to. Her mind seemed very receptive to the gentlest touch. He also tried his gift on some of the humans around him and found that each human was different. Some responded at once to the slightest suggestion of his, but others were harder to reach emotionally. He didnt try to alter them, fearing he would damage their brains if he prodded them too much. It was weeks of trial and error, but slowly Freddie was able to hone his ability to sense and alter human emotions. He knew he was getting close to his final experiment.

Chapter 5

Freddie emerged from the copmuter/observation room. He had been at the task of converting Marias files to the computer for several weeks now. He found Maria in her own small office, alone, since her last patient for the day had just departed fifteen minutes earlier. She was at her desk, writing up her notes for the day. He knocked, as he was taught, and waited for her to give him permission to enter the room.

"Oh, Freddie, I didnt see you there. I guess I was absorbed in my work. Come in."

"Gracias, Maria. I completed putting most of the files onto the computer. Your computer system is more than adequate for the amount of data you want to store there, but I would recommend purchasing a CD burner for back up storage. I can help you chose one if you like."

Maria smiled. "Thank you, you are getting to know me too well, my friend. You know I dont know the first thing about such things. Bob helped me purchase my computer, but he is too busy to be bothered getting me the rest. That was a big job and you dont know how much I appreciate your willingness to do it for me."

"A robot is always here to serve. All you need to do is put in your request...."

"You mean ask."

Freddie paused, "That is correct, all you have to do is ask and I will help you with anything you desire."

Maria looked a little down, thinking about that offer and the mention of Bob not being around. She smirked to herself and shook her head.

"Is something the matter, Maria?" Freddie asked when he saw the look on her face.

"Not really." She thought a minute and wondered what Freddie might have responded if she had been honest with him. She had been having more and more of these fleeting thoughts, wondering if Freddie was really built to do everything a human was built to do, forgetting he was a robot and picturing herself being seduced by him. But she knew that the request would have been ridiculous, so she just said, "How about we go out to dinner and then stop by the computer store on the way home to purchase what you think I will need." Maria knew that Freddie didnt require sustenance, but they had been out to a restaurant a few times so that Freddie could observe that part of the human experience first hand. His body was equipped to allow him to look like he was eating and drinking so as not to stand out.

"That sounds like a good plan, Maria. May I get your coat for you?"

"Gracias, amigo," smiled Maria. "I am getting spoiled by your wonderful manners, you know. I dont know if I will be able to give you up when your time with me is over. Humans should act this gracious to each other, but often dont, Im afraid. But dont ever change in that department. We humans could use more examples of mannerly people in our lives."

"As you wish, Maria. The one book on etiquette in your library at home stated that manners are a sign of good breeding. I am not really sure what they meant by that, how mating with the right genetic partner would impart manners on a human, since I have not been made aware of any genetic tie to manners and genes."

Maria and Freddie made their way out to her car. Freddie opened the passenger side door for her and she got in. Maria felt quite safe with Freddie behind the wheel, since his senses and reflexes were better than any humans.

"I think that Mrs. Post meant that people of a certain socio-economic class should teach their children manners to display the good breeding that goes into the matches made among that social class. I am not so sure she is right about that, I think everyone should be taught good manners, regardless of social class. But that has been the standard. If you displayed good manners, it means that you are well bred, or in a higher social class. Cause I have known high class people with low class manners and many people of a lower socio-economic class with very good manners."

"So even though manners are supposed to be a sign of breeding, they really arent," Freddie concluded as he drove out of the parking lot and onto the highway toward Marias favorite Mexican restaurant.

"That seems to be the case in practice. You will find that the rules among humans seem very different in theory than what is really practiced, Im afraid."

"Humm," Freddie pondered. "Humans can be such an enigma."

"Truth," responded Maria. They fell into a thoughtful silence as Freddie drove the rest of the way. He turned into the parking lot of the restaurant and found the nearest parking space and parked the car. Maria waited for Freddie to come around to her door and allowed him to open it for her and help her out. Normally she wouldnt have bothered, but she had learned a thing or two about Freddie in the weeks he had been with her. Freddie seemed happiest, if a robot could be considered happy, when he was doing these little things for her. At first it was hard to let him, but after a while she was enjoying a man doing for her what she had always dreamed a man should do for his woman. She wasnt sure for a while why she allowed him to do this, but finally she came to the conclusion it was because he looked so much like the real Freddie. She chuckled again to herself. It had been too easy for her to think of Freddie as a human and not a robot at times. His good looks and the way he doted on her made her think of all those girlish dreams of a prince charming. She wondered why it took a robot to really be the man most woman dreamed of. It was the irony of the situation, and it was not lost on Maria.

The restaurant wasnt too crowded for a weekday evening, so they were able to get a table right away. Maria asked for one in the back, where they would be less likely to be observed. Maria didnt want Freddie to have to appear to be eating very much, she knew that this was really a waste of food and she never like to waste anything. The waiter was able to oblige her request and they found themselves in a back booth. Freddie slid into the side that faced the rest of the dining area, since he liked to take advantage of every opportunity to observe human behavior. Maria was content to face the back wall, she had enough of human behavior for one day.

After taking their orders, Maria sat back and closed her eyes. It had been a long day, with many patients. She loved helping people, but sometimes their problems would overwhelm her emotionally and she would just need a break from them. Freddie saw her close her eyes and asked, "Are you too tired to be out anymore this evening? Would you like me to take you home?"

Maria rubbed her eyes and said, "Oh, no, Freddie, I am fine. I am just resting my eyes. It has been a long day."

Freddie looked puzzled. "I think this day has had the same number of hours as every other day, as humans measure time."

Maria smiled, "I know, the expression, a long day means that I have had a full and busy day and I am a bit tired from it, but I will be fine. I need rest, but sitting here with you, enjoying a good meal and good company is all the rest I need right now."

Freddie grinned, and Maria melted. Every time he did that, he reminded Maria of his counterpart the most. Maria loved Freddies smile, the way his dimples deepened and his eyes lit up. This Freddie was no different than the original in that way, and Maria felt 16 all over again. "I am glad you enjoy my company, Maria. I enjoy yours as well. I do not look forward to the time when we will be parted. I was so glad you agreed to allow me to come to work with you. I know a robot cannot feel loneliness like a human does, but there was something in my positronic pathways that always felt empty when you werent home those first few weeks. I guess that is something like what a human feels when they feel lonely."

"That is a pretty good description, yes."

"May I ask you a personal question, Maria?"

"Sure, you know I dont mind. That is how you learn."

Freddie hesitated momentarily. "Do you feel lonely when Friend Bob isnt home?"

Maria thought a minute. "Yes I do, even though I have gotten used to the fact that he isnt there. I try to fill my time with other things to do, to keep my mind off of being lonely, but a part of me does feel lonely, especially if it has been a long time."

"Then why does Friend Bob stay away? Doesnt he want you to be happy?"

Maria felt a little defensive, but realized that Freddie didnt understand these things. Patiently she said, "Well I know Robert wants me to be happy, but I know how important his work is. We respect each other enough to allow each other the freedom to do our work. And I realized when I married Robert that his work would take him away from me for long periods of time. My work does sometimes too, but not as often as his. So I guess I could say that I accepted this part of our relationship before I committed to it."

"But you still get lonely?"

"I am afraid so. We humans would like to think our reason is separate from our emotions, but in reality, they are tied together."

The waiter brought them their food and left. Maria took a bite of food. Freddie observed no one was watching them so he didnt bother to pretend to consume his dinner. He never ordered very much, and Maria was able to ask for his portions to be wrapped up to take home for her later.

Freddie watched Maria eat and continued. "It is interesting what you tell me about how humans handle loneliness. I noticed in the files on your patients that a lot of humans feel lonely. It is hard to understand when you are surrounded by so many humans every day."

"Well I think loneliness is tied up with having relationships with other humans. I come in contact with many humans during the course of a day, but I dont have relationships with all of them. We only miss the ones we care about. Or if we dont have anyone to care about us, we miss having a close relationship."

"I think I understand." Freddie grew thoughtful and quite for a time and Maria didnt know what else to say to him, so she spent her energy eating. After a few minutes Freddie almost startled her with his sudden request. "Maria, I need to ask you another personal question."


"Did you have a relationship with the man I resemble?"

"Well, that is a good question. I told you the story of how we met that summer in Puerto Rico." Freddie nodded. "We spent several weeks together that summer and I think we got pretty close, as close as two adolescents can get in a few weeks. I dont think I told you this, in fact I dont think I have ever told anyone this, but he gave me my first kiss."

"Oh, so your relationship was a sexual one?"

Maria shook her head. "Not really. We were attracted to each other sexually, but the one kiss was as far as it got. That and some hand holding. I did often wonder if it might have gone further if we had spent more time together, but that was not to be." Maria laughed to herself. "It is interesting though. When Freddie got married, I was very jealous, even though I had not seen him in years. I supposed you never really let go of your first love." Maria stared off into the distance as she recalled the time she spent with Freddie that summer, mostly thinking of the times they walked on the beach hand in hand. And then that one special night, near the end of her stay on the island, when they took a night stroll along the shore and stopped on a deserted stretch. The moon was full that night as Freddie looked deep into Marias eyes. She remembered how the reflected moonlight danced in his eyes. Then he reached down and placed his soft, full lips against hers. She was so lost in the moment, she forgot where she was, until the robot version of her reverie brought her back to reality.

"So you were in love with him?"

Maria shook her head again, mostly to shake the cobwebs of her daydream from her mind. "Not really, I suppose. There is a condition in humans, especially in adolescent ones, called puppy love or having a crush on a person. It is harder to describe than love really. You are more infatuated with a person than really in love. Sometimes these crushes will lead to love if the two people continue to be with each other, but more times than not, they are only crushes and you get over them and move on."

"Did you move on from Freddie?"

"Yes, I had no choice really. I dont know if it would have led to more than a crush if we had spent more time together, like I said. Somehow I doubt it though. We were too young to really know what love was. I am sure we would have found others to be with. Many humans spend time with different people of the opposite sex to get to know what they really want in a mate. We call that dating."

"Yes, I have read about that in many of the books you have in your library. Much fiction is written about this ritual of dating as well."

Maria blushed. "This is true, and I am afraid much of it isnt very accurate either. Humans tend to write about the ideal when they write fiction. Reality never seems to measure up to that ideal, Im afraid. That is why I have an over abundance of work!" She laughed about that.

"I have discovered from your files that many humans are frustrated about their love relationships."

"Truth again. Many people spend so much time fantasizing about the ideal, they become very disillusioned about the reality. The dichotomy of the two leads most humans to despair about their relationships. It is sad, I know, but there isnt much we can do about it. Human imagination is a wonderful thing, and most of our progress as a race has come from our ability to imagine things and then make them reality. But with that imagination comes things that can never be reality, and that sometimes causes sadness. I guess that is the price we pay for our imagination."

The meal was over. The waiter brought them the check and Maria paid with her credit card. They exited the restaurant and turned left. The restaurant was located in a strip mall. At the other end of it was a computer store. Maria and Freddie walked down the sidewalk toward the store. Maria was conscious of the fact that Freddie was holding her hand. She should have protested, but after the day she had, she didnt seem to mind too much being seen by people attached to such a good looking man. It made her forget that Freddie was just a robot and looked about 25 years younger than her. She wondered if she would run into anyone she knew. That would be an embarrassing moment, but she decided to risk it and continue to let Freddie hold her hand. His touch brought her back to the beach in Puerto Rico once more that evening. She figured there would be no harm in reminiscing for a while.

The feelings were short lived as they found themselves in front of the computer store, too quickly, in Marias opinion. Freddies hand left Marias as he grabbed the door handle and held the door open for her. She thanked him and went inside. Freddie had been out in public enough now to let him take charge of the situation. Maria didnt have a clue about what she needed, so she let him talk to the sales person.

Freddie adeptly told the clerk what he wanted and the man came back with a box. They talked a while about the CD burner. Most of what they said went right over Marias head, so she spent her time looking at the other things on the shelf as they talked. When they were finished, Freddie had several items in his large arms. He indicated to her that they were ready to pay for the items. Again she took out her credit card and paid for the purchases. Freddie carried the bags to the car and Maria found herself wishing his hands werent full of packages.

They drove most of the way home in silence. Maria was kind of grateful for this, for it allowed her some time for her own thoughts. When they got home, Maria told Freddie to leave the things in the car, since he would need to bring them to work the next day. He locked up the garage as she went into the house to change into her pajamas for the night. It was too early to go to bed, but she liked to get comfortable as soon as she got home in the evenings. She was in the library when Freddie came looking for her.

"Do you mind if I join you in here tonight?"

"Of course not. You know my feelings about that. Mi casa, su casa."

Freddie grinned at her and took the other overstuffed chair next to hers. She had been reading a mystery romance and he had the technical manual for the CD burner they had just purchased. When Freddie had finished the manual, he picked up the book he had currently been reading, a graduate level textbook of Marias on relationships. They spent about an hour reading in silence. Finally Freddie put the book down and looked at Maria. "I am puzzled about something, Maria. Maybe you can help me to understand."

Maria put her book down reluctantly. She had just gotten to an interesting part and hated to be interrupted, but knew that Freddie wouldnt know that. "Yes?"

"I have been reading about the social aspect of mating in the human species and I see that your culture puts a lot of emphasis on love in relation to sexual activity."

"Well that is a normal part of our culture. Humans, unlike many species, feel that sexual activity should be exclusive and that it is for more than just procreation. Sex is meant to bring two people closer together in a loving relationship. But we feel that love should preclude that activity."

"I see, but it also says in here that many humans engage in sexual activity without the love aspect. I think the term used in the book is casual sex."

"Yes, besides our intellect, humans are also driven by hormonal urges. Most of the time humans seek out love before sexual activity is engaged in, but some humans decide that the hormonal urges are more important at the moment and decide to engage in sexual activity without any love being attached."

Freddie pondered this. "I guess that is one of those cases where the ideal and the reality are different?"

"Well yes and no. Many people practice the ideal, in other words, wait till they are in love before they engage in sex. But unfortunately love isnt perfect either, so I guess this isnt really an ideal."

"I am confused." Freddie frowned.

"Dont worry, most people are too."

Freddie paused and Maria started to go back to her book. But she was not to finish her story that evening. Freddie started again. "The book says that many humans can develop unhealthy ideas about sex if they dont find love."

"Sometimes that happens, I guess. Humans do tend to dwell on sex a lot in our culture. I think other cultures are probably not as hung up on it as western culture is."

"Hung up?"

Maria thought of a way to explain the colloquialism to Freddie. "Preoccupied with. We do tend to think a lot about sex and relationships in our culture."

"Do you?" Freddie startled Maria with that blunt question.

"Well I try not to think about it too much, especially when Robert isnt around. I dont like to be sexually frustrated anymore than anyone else."

"What do you mean, sexually frustrated?"

Maria tried not to let Freddies questions annoy her. She knew he was just learning about humans, but this sudden turn into their sexual lives was a bit embarrassing for her. She talked about other peoples sexual hang ups all the time at work, but this seemed a bit different. It was like she was trying to defend her race about a subject that may be a preoccupation with her culture, but still wasnt easy to discuss.

"Humans maybe intellectual beings, Freddie, but we do have biological urges. Sometimes we think about those urges and it cause our physiology to react. Our bodies get the need for sex, but if we cannot meet the need, we long for it more and more, which can lead to a frustrating situation, having the need and not being able to meet it."

"How do you relieve the urge if it builds up too much and you dont have someone around to help you to release it?"

Now Maria was really embarrassed. A persons sexual activity was a very personal thing, and even though she was used to others telling her all about theirs, she didnt like discussing hers with other people. Listening to other people was her profession, but she didnt feel the need to share with anyone herself. Blushing, she said, "Well Freddie, there are techniques of self gratification that people practice. Sometimes if Robert is away a long time, I have had to resort to those, but I try not to make a habit of it. I feel that not engaging in sexual release just heightens the pleasure of the activity when I can engage in intimate relations with Robert when he is here. But even I have my limits, so I guess there are times when I feel the need to release the feelings."

Freddie grew quiet again, but Maria realized more was to come. She wasnt surprised when Freddie started again, but this time there was a difference to the tone of his voice. He asked, in a much quieter tone, "Maria, what is love?"

"Hummm, that isnt an easy question to answer, Freddie," Maria answered. "Love can mean a lot of different things to different people. And there are different kinds of love."

"I think you know what I mean though," said Freddie as he put the book down and stared at her intently across the small table with the reading lamp that was between the two chairs."

"You mean the love between a man and a woman. What the Greeks call Eros. Well I guess I can only really tell you what that kind of love means to me. When two people feel a certain closeness, the kind of closeness that makes them realize their life would be much less without the other one, I think this is the basis for love."

"So when you feel love for someone, you feel you would be less of a person without them in your life."

Maria nodded, "That is the start. Then it moves to mean something more. First this can be sexual attraction, but as time goes on, the couple knows that everything about their mate is important to them. They might not share all common interests, but the other person is the most important thing in their life. I know of older married couples who have decided, for one reason or another, to not engage in sex anymore, but are still very much in love. I suppose, in my ideal world, love is the more important of the two things."

"Is this the same as romance?"

Maria thought about that for a moment. One of the things she missed with Robert was the fact that even though he could be romantic at times, it didnt happen too often. She learned not to look for it, but savored it when it did happen. "Romance can be a part of it too, but, just like love, everyones definition of romance can be different."

"Is Friend Bob romantic with you?"

Maria laughed, "You are getting kinda personal here, arent you."

Freddie looked as embarrassed as a robot was capable of. "If you would rather I didnt ask you all of these questions just tell me so and I will stop."

"No, it is ok, it is just that I have never discussed this with anyone before." Maria thought about how she would answer Freddies question. "Robert can be romantic with me at times, but he is not one for that kind of stuff. Even though he might not measure up to my ideal of a romantic man, I still love him for all of his other qualities."

Freddie thought on that a minute and then asked, "Then romance isnt as important to you."

"I didnt say that, I just said that I have learned not to look for it very often. Romance can be an illusion really." Maria chuckled again, "If you must know, your manners and polite demeanor with me can be very romantic in my eyes. Maybe that is why I enjoy your company so much."

"So you think the way I treat you is romantic?"

Maria shrugged, "Sometimes. Like tonight when you were holding my hand as we walked from the restaurant to the computer store. Why did you do that, by the way?"

Now it was Freddies turn to think about a question. "I dont know really, except it seemed the right thing to do at the time. I observed other humans doing this and I guess I thought I should be too. Was I not correct in doing this with you?"

"No, it was ok."

"You said you remembered the other Freddie doing this with you in your youth. I thought you might like to re-live that part of your life, that it would give you pleasure." Freddie looked intently at her once again. The mention of her youth cause her to look at his large, dark eyes. They almost exuded the expression the real Freddies did. His eyes were always the things that drew Maria to him. She had always been told that the eyes were the windows to a persons soul and in Freddie Pruetzel she had believed it. This Freddie didnt have a soul, but she could almost believe she could see it if he did have one.

"It did bring me pleasure, Freddie. Gracias for being so thoughtful."

"Was Freddie a romantic man?"

Now Maria was really embarrassed. Could she admit to him that she always thought that Freddie was the most romantic man she had ever met. She tried over the years to deny that fact, even to herself, but she never could. "Yes, I believe he was, Freddie."

"I watched him on his show, and he seemed very taken by the ladies who acted with him."

"Well that was just a show, his character was quite the ladies man, I will admit."

"I understand that television is mainly fiction, but was he not like that in real life?"

Maria thought a moment, "Actually, Freddie, he was. I think they patterned his character after his real personality in many ways. But that character was more superficial, he was a much more complex person."

"Any more than other humans?"

"Probably not."

Freddie stopped and said, "Well, Maria, I know I have taken up much of your time tonight with questions that I am sure werent easy for you to talk about. I appreciate you being open with me about all of this. One thing the book said was that relationships are a personal thing and many people dont like to talk about it."

"That is very true. But I dont mind really. I have never really discussed how I feel about love, sex, and romance with anyone before." Maria yawned.

"I can see you are tired, so I think I should let you get to bed." Freddie got up and came over to the front of the chair Maria was sitting in. He extended his hands to her and helped her up from her sitting position. He held both of her hands after she was on her feet and he looked into her eyes once again. "Gracias, amiga, Maria. Buenas noches e suena dulce." And then he reached down and kissed her. The kiss felt so good, and it had been a long time since her husband had been home to kiss her. She knew she probably shouldnt encourage Freddie to do this, but she couldnt help herself either. All this talk of love and sex and romance had gotten her in a mood, and this kiss seemed to help her release some of the tension she was feeling in certain areas of her body. She wondered where he had learned to kiss, and decided it might have been from watching TV the week she had left him home by himself. She also wondered a little why she didnt protest.

Freddie was glad Maria was letting him give her the pleasure he suspected she needed at that moment. In the weeks that they had been together, Freddie had been experimenting with the ability to sense Marias moods. When she was lost in her memories of her night with the real Freddie back at the restaurant, he coaxed her emotions in the direction he wanted them to go. He guessed he could only do this when the thoughts were strongly tied to emotions. He experimented a little more with this when they were walking toward the computer store. He had seen people holding hands and sensed that Maria would have loved to have been back with her Freddie holding his hand again. He knew she might protest, though, if he tried, so he gently touched her mind and intensified her desire to hold his hand so she wouldnt pull away, and it worked. He wondered if it would work again if he tried to kiss her. He sensed that she desired to recreate the memories on the beach in Puerto Rico, and he wondered if he could get her to forgo her caution and pretend to be with her Freddie once again. He reached out and touched her emotional brain paths, intensifying the memories and the good feelings she was having, and then tried to kiss her. To his delight, she responded positively.

He knew he needed to be cautious with this newly discovered power of his. He never wanted to do anything to hurt her. He cared for her, mostly because she had been so helpful to him with his education. He wanted to do something nice for her in return. The past week he had slowly discovered a way to pay her back for the kindness she had shown to him. He spent nights reviewing the tapes of his counterparts show, studying not only his mannerisms, but acting technique. He even went on the Internet to learn about the art of acting. Freddie knew that if he were to succeed with his plan, he would have to act like the real Freddie enough to convince her mind that she was really with him. Now that he had the evidence he needed tonight that she had a relationship with the real Freddie, and that a part of her still wondered what it would have been like if their relationship had gone further, he knew he was ready to try what he had in mind.

Freddie slowly ended the kiss and dimmed the light in the library. He gathered Maria to himself in an embrace, with her head against his broad chest. Standing in the near darkness of the room like that for a few seconds, he reached his head down and whispered in the general direction of her right ear, "Mi amor, I missed you."

Maria, drifting in and out of reality answered dreamily, "I missed you too, Freddie."

Freddie gently touched her mind and heightened her sense of the unreal, making her think of it as real. "Do you ever wish you could have done more with me that night on the beach when I gave you that sweet kiss?"

Not lifting her head from his chest, Maria answered, "Oh, yes, Freddie. I have thought a lot about that night and what might have been. In fact, I have dreamed more about it again lately. I am not sure why...." Her voice and thoughts drifted back to the beach.

Freddie knew he didnt have to prod her mind anymore, her mind was in the place he needed her to be. "Lets go back out to the beach. The moon is full again tonight."

"Ok," Maria answered and she lifted her head off of his chest and he took her hand and they headed through the darkened house to the patio doors. Maria knew she was in her house, and not in Puerto Rico, but her mind was flooded with the memories and the feelings of that special night so long ago. She let this person lead her through the door and out onto the patio. She looked up and saw the moon shining brightly on the water in the pool. Part of the yard was landscaped on one side of the pool with sand, to simulate a beach. Maria had asked Robert if she could do this, saying she preferred to lie in the sun on the sand then in a lawn chair. Now Freddie was leading her to her private beach.

Freddie removed the beach blanket off of the fence that bordered the beach area. Maria always kept one out there for when she wanted to sun herself. He led her onto the sand and spread the blanket on top of the surface. Taking her in his arms, he said, "Do you remember when I took you to this beach and I kissed you for the first time under the full moon?"

"Oh yes, Freddie," answered Maria. "I have never forgotten that night."

Freddie reached down and kissed Maria once again. Maria was losing herself in the fantasy of the moment. Her conscious mind told her that this wasnt real, but something from deep within her kept up the illusion. It was her subconscious that was winning out. Freddie knew that he was succeeding in heightening the fantasy feelings in favor of the reality ones. He was only thinking of Maria and how much he wanted to give her pleasure. Robots dont feel or need love, but Freddie thought he must be feeling the robot equivalent, the need to please the human that had been left in his charge. For even though Maria was really in charge of him, in many ways he had a responsibility to her as well. All robots are programmed to protect and serve the humans they belonged to.

Freddie finished up the kiss and gently lowered Maria to the blanket. As he laid down next to her, he began to hug and caress her in ways he knew would give her pleasure. His programming had been complete with all the sexual experiences known to humans, in case he would ever be needed to perform in that area, and it was just an easy step to now initiate that behavior on his own instead of waiting for the human to give him instructions in this area. His ministrations were having the desired effect on Maria and Freddie kept it up, not only caressing her with his hands and mouth, but with his words, repeating some of the things he had heard the real Freddie say to the actresses who played his girlfriends on the show and things he had read in some of the romance books that Maria had in her library. He never let on that he had read these as well as her other books. He spoke like the real Freddie, telling her things he knew she would want to hear, both in English and her native Spanish. Freddie could tell she was lost in the moment and the fantasy. He smiled, pleased that he could finally show her how grateful he was for all of her help.

As Freddie pleasured her, Maria let herself go in waves of orgasm. She briefly wondered if Robert would mind her using the robot in this fashion, but with the moon above shining its light down on them and the warmth and softness of the sand below them overloading her senses, it was hard for her to even think of Freddie as anything but the man she once knew, to think of her back yard as anything but the beach in Puerto Rico, and the fantasy as anything but reality for her at the moment. She allowed Freddie to take her to that special place of climax, not once, but several times that night, in several different ways. When it was over, she was so exhausted from the experience, she could only drift into a deep sleep.

Freddie knew Maria was totally spent physically. He let her take a few minutes to drift off into a deep sleep and then lifted her limp body into his strong arms. He gently carried her into the house and placed her on her bed, covering her up and kissing her on the forehead. She smiled in her sleep and he smiled at her. He noiselessly slipped from her room and closed the door.

Freddie spent a few minutes straightening up the evidence of their encounter. He then went back to the library to study some more until morning, wondering what Maria reaction would be when she woke up and realized what had happened the night before. He knew this would also be a part of his education concerning human behavior.

The next morning, Maria woke up, trying to remember how she got to bed. The last clear thought in her brain from the night before was her being helped up from her chair in the library by Freddie and his reaching down to kiss her. The rest was like a dream, pleasant, but foggy enough to cause her to wonder if it had really happened or not. She looked down and saw her pajamas were in more of a disarray then they would have normally been the morning after an average nights sleep. Getting up to take her shower and get herself ready for another day, she slowly began to realize the dream wasnt a dream at all. She had made love to Freddie. Her mind reeled as she let the water of the shower wash over her. "Maria," she said to herself, "You let a robot make love to you."

"But he didnt act like a robot last night," her alter ego countered.

"No, he didnt," she answered back. "It was like I was with my Freddie all over again." She wanted to be repulsed by the knowledge of her actions of the night before, but the memories of the tenderness and romance of the encounter were stronger in her than the horror. She wondered why she allowed herself to be seduced by this robot who acted like a man, when it dawned on her that she didnt initiate this encounter, he did.

Maria rushed to get herself ready, knowing that Freddie was out in the kitchen fixing her breakfast as was his usual routine. She had to ask him something very important at that moment. As she hurried to the kitchen, she wondered if he would mention last night to her. She decided to wait to say anything and see if he would mention it first.

Freddie greeted Maria with a Buenas Dias and asked her how she slept as she sat down at the table and he brought her coffee over to her. "I slept wonderfully, gracias for asking."

"I am relieved. I wasnt sure if you would after....." Freddies voice trailed off, as he wondered if he should mention last nights events first. He sat down opposite her at the table after he put the rest of the breakfast on the table for her.

"...After you made love to me under the moon last night?" Maria said completing Freddies sentence, deciding she needed to be the one to be blunt.

"Yes," Freddie said politely. There was silence for a moment.

Maria continued when she saw Freddie wasnt going to say more. "Freddie, I have just one question to ask you. Why did you think you needed to do that last night?"

"Maria," Freddie began cautiously, "I have been observing you for the past couple of weeks. Learning what I have about human relationships, I concluded that you were becoming more and more lonely for intimate human companionship. I knew Friend Bob wouldnt be home for a while and I wondered if you would start to despair like the people do in the books you read. I studied much about human relationships to test my conclusion. When I discovered last night that fantasy is a powerful thing in humans and that you probably fantasized about the real Freddie, and seeing how you got lost in the memories of him at the restaurant, I felt it would give you pleasure to recreate that moment for you in reality. Was I correct, did it give you the pleasure I had hoped it would?"

Maria smiled and nodded as she swallowed the toast she had been chewing. "Oh, yes, Freddie, it was very pleasurable. But why did you feel the need to give me pleasure?"

"That isnt as easy a question to answer, Maria." Freddie gave a little sheepish grin and lowered his eyes. "I know you think of me as only a robot, and I know that robots dont have feelings. I am incapable of feeling such things as love or even friendship. But my positronic pathways seem to run at maximum efficiency when I think of how I could please you in return for helping me understand you and other humans better. I guess humans would call this my way of thanking you."

"And you came to this conclusion and plan all on your own?" Maria asked.

"Yes, I did." Freddie answered.

Maria sighed and said, "Well Freddie, I think I have finally completed my task. I have taught you all I can about human behavior. I know you want to complete the computer project at my office, but after that, I think I will be calling my husband and telling him the project was a success. It is time for you go back to the institute."

Freddie rose up and looked intently at Maria. His face grew into a frown as he said in a puzzled tone, "But I have only just begun to understand humans. I have so much more I need to learn."

"And you will learn it, Freddie. No human can know everything about how humans behave. We spend a life time learning the lessons we do. I believe you will learn more than any human is capable of about us in your longer lifetime. But the lessons will take you the rest of your days to learn. I have only gotten you to the first step. Now my job is done."

"But I still dont understand. What was the first step and how do you know I have reached it?"

"Freddie, why did my husband build human form robots?"

Freddie thought and said, "To make robots capable of independent reasoning so that they could go explore places too dangerous for humans to explore, but to explore them as effectively as a human could."

"And up until last night, where has most of your reasoning originated?"

"With your guidance and instruction."

Maria smiled at Freddie and as she took her dishes to the sink she said, "But last night, you initiated the plan to seduce me, knowing it was something I desired, but never asked you for. It was all on your own initiative that you did that. You had your first experience with independent reasoning, and I believe it was an overwhelming success. I responded just the way you had hoped, and I am a happy woman today because of it." She reached down and kissed him on the cheek. "I know you cant feel the emotion behind that, but I want to thank you for last night. I finally got my fantasy to come true, and that doesnt happen to many people."

"De nada, Maria," Freddie smiled back at her.

"Well lets get to work so you can get that computer job completed. I will call Robert this afternoon and tell him that you can return to the institute." Maria turned to go and get her briefcase from the living room.

"I will not function as smoothly when you are not with me, Maria. Is that what humans call missing someone?"

Maria turned and faced Freddie who had come up from behind. His face displayed a frown and if it were possible for a robot to cry, Maria thought he might at that moment. "Yes it is and I will miss you too, Freddie. But we both have jobs to do. I have my patients and you have other human form robots to train."

"Yes, I understand. And I have my report to give to Friend Bob."

Maria thought a moment. "Will you be giving Robert every detail of our time together?"

"Yes, those are my instructions."

"I just wondered...." Maria paused, "But I guess you have to."

"Have to what, Maria?"

"Tell him everything."

Freddie looked at her face and sensed her thoughts. "Maybe this is my second try at independent reason, but I think I see what you are trying to tell me. I dont have to let him know all the details of last night, if you think it would be harmful to your marriage relationship."

"I know he will need to know, but I am thinking maybe I should be the one to tell him, ok?"

"If you think it is best."

"I do. And one more thing," Maria added as they walked out to the car and got in. "Maybe when you teach other robots about humans, you dont dwell on exploring what we did last night. I am thinking it might be safer if robots dont get so involved with humans in that way."

Freddie pulled the car out of the garage and down the driveway. He backed into the street and drove off in the direction of the medical office. "Why, was there a problem with last night?"

Maria was reluctant to admit it, but she said, "Yes Freddie. As wonderful as last night was, I dont think humans would be able to handle intimacy with robots."

"Why is that, Maria?"

Maria smiled, "Well, Freddie, robots can remain objective in all situations, but I am afraid humans rarely do. You might not be able to fall in love, but we do, and I dont think that would be a good thing in the long run. So maybe you should instruct other robots not to intrude on our fantasy life. Once you taste the perfection of fantasy, it is hard to go back to the imperfection of reality. It is why I need to tell Robert of our encounter. I dont want to crush his ego."

"So in pleasing you, I might have potentially hurt him?" Freddie asked with a knowing look on his face.

"Yes. I am sure he knew that the potential was there for me to fall in love with you, since he made you to look like my first love. But I wonder if he ever thought I would act on that. I knew it was a dangerous thing for me to do, giving into your seduction, but after all, I am only human!"

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